Philly lawmaker’s bill aims to reduce Pa.’s disturbing maternal mortality rate | Thursday Morning Coffee

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Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Looking to address Pennsylvania’s shockingly high maternal mortality rate among women of color, a Philadelphia lawmaker has rolled out a four-bill package that she says will “increase access to care and address bias within the healthcare system.”

“Pennsylvania has seen an increasing, disturbing trend in pregnancy-related deaths, with 11.4 deaths per 100,000 live births from 2012 to 2016,” state Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Philadelphia, said in a statement released by her office. “For women of color during that time period, that rate was more than double, at 27.2 per 100,000 live births. This is a clear indication that regardless of income and education levels, women of color are at an even greater risk than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications.”

The bills in Cephas’ package would:

“While the death of any mother is a tragedy, the fact that many of these deaths could have been prevented is an absolute travesty,” Cephas said in that statement. “My legislation would help increase access to care and address bias within the healthcare system. We need to close the gaps for services and resources for women to ensure they have access to quality healthcare and to improve the health outcomes for mothers and babies in our commonwealth.”

(Capital-Star file)

Cephas’ bill fits into a larger effort at the state level to address maternal mortality rates.

In September, the state’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee, created by a 2018 law, said it plans to use a $2.25 million federal grant to hire staff, collect data, and analyze the numbers. Some money will also go to a similar Philadelphia-based committee that studies maternal health.

The committee, which has its roots in legislation sponsored by Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-Lehigh, studies all maternal deaths before or up to a year after birth. The committee will determine if a death was related to pregnancy complications, if the death was preventable, and will make recommendations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 700 women die from pregnancy complications each year, while three in five deaths are preventable. The rate is even higher for black women, the Capital-Star’s Stephen Caruso reported in September.

The U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality of any developed nation in the world.

In a statement at the time, Gov. Tom Wolf said the federal grant will be “extremely helpful” in his efforts “to determine the reasons for these deaths and to develop prevention recommendations.”

Our Stuff.

After hours and hours of often hostile debate, the U.S. House approved two impeachment articles against President Donald Trump on Wednesday. Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender — with an assist from your fave newsletter author — has the story.

Here’s what every member of Pennsylvania’s U.S. House delegation had to say about the vote.

Undeterred by Gov. Tom Wolf’s deadline, the House GOP is weighing a path forward for the state’s first minimum wage hike in a decade, Stephen Caruso reports.

The state House also passed legislation that would dramatically overhaul the lieutenant governor’s office, Caruso also reports.

Gov. Tom Wolf has signed a sweeping package of criminal justice reforms into law — capping years of bipartisan compromiseElizabeth Hardison reports.

And veteran Republican Senate lawyer Drew Crompton was confirmed to a seat on Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court on Wednesday — amid Democratic calls for reforms to the systemHardison also reports.

Advocates and patients called on the Legislature to fix Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law Wednesday. They want the state to authorize a Patients’ Bill of Rights and impose price caps, Associate Editor Cassie Miller reports.

On our Commentary Page, the Allegheny Institute’s Colin McNickle takes a dive into some disappointing Pittsburgh jobs numbers. And a Rochester Institute of Technology political science professor explains what happens next now that the House has approved impeachment articles.

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Elsewhere.
Ride-hailing service, Lyft, has announced a new pilot program in Pittsburgh, offering discounts to 250 people, Pittsburgh City Paper reports.
Philadelphia is a city of economic extremes — boasting both high income and high poverty, the Inquirer reports.
PennLive has the story on the problems plaguing Pennsylvania’s biggest economic development agency.
The Morning Call has more details on a chilling murder in Berks County that left two children dead.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

Philly Mayor Jim Kenney is expected to sign a bill requiring developers to give back to the community, WHYY-FM reports.
The PA Post profiles two gun safety instructors who have a plan to prevent firearms suicides.
A GOP super-PAC with ties to House Republican leadership has an internal poll showing U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st Districtwith a 50-36 percent lead over Democrat Debbie WachpressPoliticsPA reports.

What Goes On.
1:30 p.m., Capitol Media Center:
 Auditor General Eugene DePasquale releases an audit of the state’s voter registration system.

WolfWatch.
Gov. Tom Wolf
 has no public schedule today.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a straight-up holiday klassic from The Kinks: It’s “Father Christmas.”

Thursday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
St. Louis
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And now you’re up to date.

John L. Micek
John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. He's been covering Pennsylvania politics for more than 20 years and most recently served as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Micek's commentary is syndicated to more than 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. And he's a regular contributor to a host of broadcast outlets in Pennsylvania and abroad.