Closing Plenary: US Department of Health and Human Services Region 8 Director discusses new maternal health initiatives


Shane Ersland


US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Region 8 Director Lily Griego discussed new maternal health initiatives during the 2023 Colorado State of Reform Health Policy Conference’s closing plenary last month.    

Griego said maternal health is a very personal policy issue that she and HHS have focused on in 2023. She discussed the new Maternal Health Hotline, which HHS launched last year. The hotline aims to strengthen both maternal health and behavioral health, with counselors available to provide mental health support.   

“(It’s) very similar to 988; you call and will get someone who can understand and can speak with you to the experience you may be experiencing, and deliver services in a moment of crisis.”

— Griego

The Biden-Harris Administration announced more than $103 million in funding to support and expand access to maternal health last month as part of the HHS Maternal Health Day of Action, Griego said. The funds will help form a new task force that will work to address maternal mental health conditions and co-occurring substance use disorders. 

“This is focused on housing, food, child care, income assistance, and more.”

 — Griego

Griego said the funding will support: 

  • Better-trained providers 
  • The elimination of surprise bills
  • Substance use services
  • Improved maternal health data
  • Diverse maternal care workforces 
  • Better access for doulas
  • Better access for midwives
  • Expanded social services 
  • Stronger partnerships between HHS and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the US Department of Agriculture