Idaho becomes 1st state without formal maternal death review process

The U.S. has the highest rate of maternal deaths in high-income countries and Idaho is above the national average. Despite this, Idaho legislators have rejected the formation of a permanent committee to formally review such deaths, KFF Health News reported July 7.

State legislators, who also rejected a proposal to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage, decided not to extend a sunset date for a panel set up in 2019 to review maternal deaths.

In doing so, Idaho becomes the only state not to have a maternal mortality review committee.

The U.S. had 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2021, according to CDC data. That is even higher than the country's 2020 figure of 23.8; that year, Canada and Germany had rates of 8.4 and 3.6 deaths, respectively. 

Idaho's rate was 41.8 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020, with about half of such deaths occurring postpartum.

The news comes shortly after a number of Idaho health systems said they will eliminate maternal care services. Sandpoint, Idaho-based Bonner General Hospital, for example, said in March it would stop delivering babies, pointing to strict abortion laws and a loss of expert providers.

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