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Rep. Aaron Pilkington said lawmakers looking to address state's high maternal mortality rate

An Arkansas House Committee Discussed Maternal Health Monday.
Bee Harris
An Arkansas House Committee Discussed Maternal Health, at the end of last year. A recent report showed a majority of maternal deaths in the state are preventable.

Dr. Nirvana Manning with UAMS said the latest report by the Arkansas Department of Health showed that around 90% of all maternal deaths were preventable. Manning said this has always been an issue in the state but it’s finally being quantified and there is now awareness of the issue.

In an interview with KARK Channel 4’s Capitol View, Rep. Aaron Pilkington, Republican of Knoxville, said, as a pro-lfie state, this is an issue that Arkansas needs to fix.

“We need to do a better job of taking care of our mothers and our babies. That’s an area Dr. Manning said we perform very poorly. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement,” he said.

Pilkington said lawmakers are looking at ways of working on the issue, during the upcoming fiscal session. He said one of the solutions would be extending postpartum medicaid. Manning also said that is one of the solutions to the problem. Currently, Arkansas allows coverage for 60 days.

According to the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI), under the recent federal budget, Arkansas has the option to extend the 60-day coverage period to one year. Thirty-five states have approved extending postpartum Medicaid coverage to one year.

Manning also said lack of communication is one of the reasons for Arkansas’ high maternal mortality rate.

“All of the delivering hospitals in Arkansas could talk in a better way such as that when a patient needs to get from x to y to potentially z that provider, that community, that hospital doesn’t have to call all of these places. They can get to the next best place to take care of the patient,” she said.

Arkansas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the nation, according to ACHI.

Ronak Patel is a reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.