GAO Calls On HHS to Create Strong Assessments for White House Blueprint on the Maternal Health Crisis

February 2024 – Citing a “maternal health crisis”, this month the General Accounting Office reported that maternal mortality and other adverse pregnancy- or childbirth-related outcomes “worsened significantly” in 2020/2021 over 2018/2019. This included persistent disparities during the pandemic: the rate for non-Hispanic Black/African American women was around 2.5 times greater than for non-Hispanic white women.



The blueprint done, but measurement methods not set.

The GAO used Health and Human Services data in its analysis and has now called on HHS to follow through on supporting the White House Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis, which was released in June 2022 and sets out long-term goals for improving maternal health. The plan also identifies efforts such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Perinatal Quality Collaborative program, which supports multidisciplinary teams in maternal health quality improvement initiatives.

But as of last September HHS had not yet determined how it would measure progress toward these goals, so the GAO has recommended that HHS use key performance measurement practices – including near-term goals and performance measures – and that the CDC set quantitative targets for the Perinatal Quality Collaborative program’s near-term goals. According to the GAO, HHS has agreed with the recommendations and plans to address them.

We call on HHS to get to work on setting up its assessment frameworks and we call on  the GAO to monitor the progress of its recommendations and to keep the public informed. The U.S. has one of highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world, and time is of the essence. There is work to be done.