Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Three bills in Pa. state Senate aim to reduce maternal mortality

A mother sits in a hospital bed while a nurse puts a box containing her baby on the bed.
Matt Rourke

On today’s episode of The Confluence: A Berks County state Senator has introduced a package of bills to address maternal mortality; Pittsburgh residents are utilizing alternative modes of transportation, according to a report from the city on its Move PGH mobility initiative; and we discuss what newsroom workers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are demanding after they walked off the job midday yesterday.

Today’s guests include: State Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks County; Jillian Forstadt, a reporter with WESA; and Zack Tanner, interactive designer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh.

Bills on maternal health seek to expand access to Medicare, doulas in the commonwealth
(0:00 - 8:34)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications. The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries.

Democratic State Senator Judy Schwank of Berks County has proposed a package of legislation aimed at averting at least some of those deaths.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to approve one of Schwank’s bills, which would expand the Medicaid coverage time frame from two months to a full year for postpartum mothers.

“I would argue that paying for this type of care upfront makes sure that mothers not only survive, and their infants, but they thrive as well,” says Schwank. “It's far better to make sure that children get a healthy start in life, rather than waiting until later to address mental and physical health issues that both mothers and babies face.”

Gov. Tom Wolf has already expanded Medicaid access for postpartum mothers for a year using American Rescue Plan Act funds, but Schwank says it’s up to the legislature to affirm that access because ARPA funds expire in 2027.

Transportation, disability advocates say the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure’s Move PGH initiative misses the mark for those most in need
(8:39 - 12:32)

The city of Pittsburgh is one year into a two-year pilot to expand mobility for residents. The Move PGH initiative brought with it the launch of e-scooters, mopeds and revamping the city’s bike share program.

The city’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI) published a report last week documenting the impact of Move PGH over the last year. However, disability advocates have argued the department is not prioritizing accessibility

“The program, while it does include several different types of transport, it does focus on the e-scooters, especially in that mid-pilot report,” says Jillian Forstadt, general assignment reporter with WESA. “Pittsburghers for Public Transit say that is not accessible for nearly everyone in the community, not people with disabilities, not those who are elderly, not those who are unbanked or have low incomes and can't afford each scooter ride.”

The city is holding a town hall with Mayor Ed Gainey and disability advocates on Oct. 25 to discuss increasing accessibility in the city.

Post-Gazette journalists who walked off job will produce ‘strike publication’ 
(12:36 - 18:30)

Yesterday, newsroom workers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette walked off the job, initiating a formal unfair labor practice strike.

This follows a group of employees in the Teamsters, Pressmen, Mailers and Typographical unions that went on strike earlier this month. Post-Gazette journalists under the Pittsburgh News Guild have been bargaining with management since 2017 when its last contract expired. The company declared an impasse in 2020.

The move comes the same week President Joe Biden is visiting the region ahead of the November Election.

“Striking right now is not something we take lightly. It was talked about a little bit yesterday, we're working on our own strike publication that the workers are going to put together on our own and put out in the next couple of days. So these things will be covered,” says Zack Tanner, president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh and an interactive designer with the Post-Gazette. “We hope the Block Family and the Post-Gazette looks at this and says, ‘Wow, we'd rather have the coverage here. Let's treat these workers fairly and get them back to work.’”

Tanner says the strike publication will be published online in the coming days.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Recent Episodes Of The Confluence