Rural Health on Life Support

Season #1

In this second episode in our “Rural Health on Life Support” series, Michelle talks with Julia D. Interrante, PhD, MPH, a Research Fellow and Statistical Lead at the University of Minnesota’s Rural Health Research Center. Dr. Interrante’s research examines the effects of policy on maternal health outcomes and access to maternity care services with a specific focus on geographic and racial equity. It includes disparities in severe maternal morbidity and mortality, changing access to rural maternity care, and the impact of payment policies on maternal and postpartum care. 

During this conversation, Michelle asked Dr. Interrante to share her research on why the rate of U.S. maternal and infant morbidity and mortality is higher for rural residents than urban residents and access to care during pregnancy and childbirth is declining in rural communities. They also discuss research that confirms that not all rural communities are equally affected, as evidenced in the numbers showing that rural U.S. counties with a majority Black or Indigenous population have higher rates of premature death.   

Other areas covered include connecting Medicaid expansion and maternal / infant outcomes and how data versus politics can drive better policy decisions to support maternal and infant outcomes, even in the most remote rural areas. Finally, they discuss how state policy is also a factor in addressing the crisis that places the United States at the top of the list of the worst maternal mortality and morbidity of any other developed country in the world.