The Wyoming Legislature Labor, Health and Human Services Committee met Wednesday morning to discuss maternal and child services, pregnancy and newborn outcomes in the state.
The Wyoming Department of Health shared that it partnered with Utah to create the first maternal mortality review board. Between 2018 and 2020, there were 13 pregnancy-related deaths in the state. Twelve were reviewed by the committee. Preliminary data shows that the main factors contributing to the death of pregnant women are the lack of access to health care or the lack of financial resources to access appropriate care.
Three mothers lost their insurance coverage prior to the time of death. Franz Fuchs, a policy analyst at the Wyoming Department of Health, said that was a big factor in the bigger picture.
“I think access to cover would be a bit like tinder or drought, in this fire,” Fuchs said. “Compared to maybe not causing this causally but maybe contributing to the layer…causes that potentially need to be addressed.”
Fuchs said these numbers are preliminary numbers and cautioned that the results should be taken with a grain of salt due to such a small sample size. The final report will be published in July.
The committee also continued its discussion on how to reduce the number of exposures to substance use in infants. A bill that classifies the use of methamphetamine or narcotics by a pregnant woman as child endangerment failed in the Senate in the last legislative session.
Dr. Laura Mook spoke to the committee about her personal experience as a pediatrician at Fort Washakie. Mook told members she was seeing more and more pregnant women coming in without having prenatal care.
“I think not having prenatal care is often a sign to me that something else was going on during their pregnancy, other mental health issues, a substance use disorder,” said she declared.
She said the legislature’s proposed bill to criminalize women who have a problem with substance use during pregnancy would further compound the problem, as women would be afraid to seek care.
Representatives from the Wyoming Association of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Centers (WAMHSAC), Wyoming Medical Society, Legislative Service Office and Wyoming Hospital Association spoke to committee members about data and issues related to pregnancy outcomes , newborn care, and postpartum Medicaid coverage.