Shortly after the very first national Black Maternal Health Week, founded and led by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced his intentions to address high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity among Black women in New York state. The comprehensive initiative includes an expansion of Medicaid coverage for doulas, reducing the out-of-pocket costs for what is often life-saving care for low-income families.
On April 22, the New York Times reported that “the design of the doula pilot program will be finalized by the state’s Health Department within 45 days, and the program will start immediately thereafter.” But 45 days have long come and gone and, despite launching a task force, the New York State Department of Health still has no solidified program plan or a launch date to begin implementation.
In an election year that will determine whether the political tides will change, advocates are wary of empty promises to address racial disparities in maternal health. Gov. Cuomo shouldn’t play politics with Black maternal health. Rather, the governor should let New York state be the example the United States needs by getting doula Medicaid reimbursement right. Now.