Purchaser Business Group on Health takes aim at maternal care

The Purchaser Business Group on Health has unveiled a new purchasing agreement that aims to improve maternal health.

Benefits experts at retail giant Walmart and technology company Qualcomm led the initiative as co-chairs, with the goal of establishing "a collective commitment among employers and public purchasers of healthcare" to address maternal health and birth equity, according to an announcement from PBGH.

The agreement centers on five key principles: deploying evidence-based, coordinated models to ensure high-quality care; ensuring timely access; promoting equitable care built on cultural humility; transparency and accountability; and value-based care.

It also establishes a consensus for employers and public healthcare purchasers as to what high-quality and high-value maternity care is and outlines expectations for both insurers and providers to follow to meet that bar.

“The U.S. is facing a maternal morbidity and mortality crisis, and the inequities in access to quality care are unacceptable,” said Nancy Jester, senior manager of benefits and well-being for Walmart, in the press release. “Through the Common Purchasing Agreement, PBGH and its member organizations aim to reverse these trends by driving the adoption of evidence-based and innovative practices that support improved maternal health and birth equity.”

The group said in the press release that because more than half of births are covered under employer-sponsored plans, there is an imperative on these firms to play a role in improving maternal health outcomes.

PBGH intends to continue building on this work and will be holding a multi-stakeholder summit on maternal health in September.

“Through the Comprehensive Maternity Care Common Purchasing Agreement, we are not just setting the bar for quality care, we are creating pathways that lead towards measurable improvements and accountability in maternity care,” said Elizabeth Mitchell, PBGH’s president and CEO, in the release. “We are determined to make the U.S. a safe place for all people to give birth.”