New York Gov. Kathy Hochul — the state’s first “mom governor” — said Thursday she wants to make it law to provide up 40 hours paid medical leave during pregnancy.
The Democrat unveiled the plan to allow time for prenatal medical visits at Wycoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, which she said would make the Empire State the first in the nation to have statewide prenatal care.
The pitch was part of a slew of proposals to tackle rising infant and maternal mortality, she said.
“Make no mistake: we are facing a maternal and infant mortality crisis,” Hochul said during the speech, her third stop in a series of “State of the State.”
“As New York’s first mom governor, this is personal to me,” she went on. “We are committed to tackling this crisis head-on with policies that lift up parents and children throughout the State of New York.”
Hochul, a mother of two, pledged to introduce legislation that would scrap co-pays for out-of-pocket maternal medical expenses, streamline access to doulas and provide funding for cribs.
New Yorkers would be able to utilize a doula service without the referral of a physician with legislation that would give the state commissioner of health the power to issue a “standing order,” Hochul said.
Meanwhile the plan also calls to eliminate cost-sharing – including co-pays and other out-of-pocket costs for New Yorkers who are enrolled in Essential Plan or Qualified Health Plans.
Hochul also launched an initiative that would reduce the need for unnecessary Cesarean births (or C-Sections) which would include oversight to identify physicians whose “behavior is out of line with clinical best practice.”
Approximately one in five pregnancy-related deaths are due to mental health conditions and approximately one in eight woman who give birth experience postpartum depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state will train the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline counselors to better equip them to deal with the challenges being experienced by expecting parents, according to the governor.
“In New York, we refuse to accept the maternal and infant mortality crisis – we’re taking action to ensure women and babies have the lifesaving healthcare options and services they deserve,” Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado said in a statement.
“This is how we address existing disparities and support families statewide. We will proudly lead the way.”
According to CDC data, infant mortality jumped 2% between 2021 and 2022. That’s compared to a 3% rise nationwide.
Each week, roughly two infants die in unsafe sleep settings contributing to 120 infant deaths per year, according to the governor’s office.
Hochul has also provided funding for the distribution of portable cribs for under resourced New Yorkers at no extra cost, according to her plan.