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Thursday, February 22, 2024
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NY Governor Proposes Paid Leave for Prenatal Care, Aiming to Set a Higher Standard for the Nation

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NY Governor New York Governor Kathy Hochul has proposed a groundbreaking expansion of paid parental leave to include coverage for prenatal appointments. The move, part of a budget plan announced at the start of the state Legislature’s session, aims to set a new national standard. If implemented, New York would become the first state in the U.S. to offer paid leave specifically for prenatal care, allowing eligible workers up to 40 hours of paid time off.

Addressing Disparities in Infant and Maternal Mortality

Hochul’s initiative is driven by the goal of addressing disparities in infant and maternal mortality, particularly affecting low-income individuals and people of color, with a focus on the alarming rates impacting Black women. The proposal underscores the importance of consistent medical care during the early months of pregnancy in making a significant difference.

Alarming U.S. Trends in Maternal and Infant Mortality: NY Governor 

Highlighting concerning trends in the United States, which surpass other affluent nations in infant and maternal mortality rates, the proposal seeks to tackle these issues head-on. The Black infant mortality rate in New York, aligning with national trends, is more than double the average, as outlined in a state health department report. Structural racism, discrimination, and health inequalities are identified as key contributors to these disparities.

Transformative Measures for Prenatal Care Access: NY Governor

To transform access to prenatal care, the proposal suggests amending the current state law, which only provides benefits starting a month before a child’s birth, with a seven-day waiting period. Hochul’s vision is to establish prenatal care as a distinct qualifying event, ensuring pregnant individuals can access necessary medical care without delays.

Holistic Approach to Maternal and Infant Health: NY Governor

The comprehensive proposal, set to be officially presented during the State of the State address, includes measures such as waiving co-pays and out-of-pocket costs for pregnancy-related benefits under specific health plans. Additionally, the governor envisions state-funded portable cribs for economically disadvantaged individuals to reduce infant deaths related to unsafe sleep conditions. Initiatives addressing the high rate of unnecessary cesarean sections, exceeding recommended frequencies, are also part of the holistic approach.

Urgent Call for Action: NY Governor

State Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, a Brooklyn Democrat, commended the Governor’s six-point plan, emphasizing the urgent need for action to combat the infant and maternal mortality crisis. The proposal now awaits review by the New York Legislature, where Democrats hold the majority in both houses, following the commencement of the legislative session.

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