PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Forward Releases New Research and Action Plan to Help Address Maternal Health


Focused effort to support mothers and their families to drive long-term impact   

Bentonville, Ark. – Against a backdrop where the U.S. is confronting one of the highest rates of maternal deaths among all high-resource countries, Heartland Forward announced new research and a corresponding action plan to offer practical solutions for policymakers, providers, insurers, philanthropists and businesses working to improve outcomes for mother and child. 

The report, The Economic Case for Investing in Maternal Healthfocuses on Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Ohio. It includes primary interviews with local, state and community health care professionals providing new insights into the economic impact of poor maternal health care and issues related to inequitable access to providers.  Some of the key findings include:  

  • The impact of negative maternal health outcomes on the economy is significant. Undesirable outcomes from pregnancy cost the U.S. $165.3 billion in additional medical expenses and lost economic growth. For example, preterm births can cost up to $237,668 compared to $6,370 for a healthy full-term baby. 
  • An estimated $79 billion could be saved nationally if greater access to existing, cost-effective services like prenatal care, mental health care and Community Health Workers (CHWs) were made available. 
  • In the four states of focus in the report, births that occurred outside a mother’s county of residence cost up to $221 million in non-medical expenses, like transportation and lost wages, cumulatively each year—reflecting the disparity of regional health care infrastructures, availability of specialized maternity services and distances mothers must travel for care. 

In addition to releasing the detailed report, Heartland Forward is sharing a “Heartland Action Plan to Advance Maternal Health Outcomes.” The plan focuses on the following four areas of impact:  

  • Supporting and advocating for Community Health Workers  
  • Expanding access to telehealth 
  • Addressing workforce shortages across the health care industry  
  • Increasing transparency through data collection and evaluation

The research report and Action Plan were unveiled during the Northwest Arkansas Council’s NWA Health Summit, Addressing and Identifying Barriers within Maternal Health, which was held in Fayetteville, Arkansas, today. Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward, was the keynote speaker and participated on a panel with authors of the research report, Amir Forati and Maria Rodriguez-Alcala, who are members of the Heartland Forward team. They discussed the findings of the research and the proposals included in the Action Plan.

“Our role at Heartland Forward is to be a resource for states and local communities. This means improving the quality of life for families across the 20 states we define as the heartland. We want to help identify and support direct action to solve problems,” said DeVol. “It is imperative we find practical solutions that can improve women’s health and maternal health over the next three to five years, as too much is at stake for the health and wellness of new, expecting and future mothers and their children.”  

Contact: Blake Woolsey,, 479-957-6301


About Heartland Forward
Heartland Forward is a policy think and do tank dedicated to being a resource for states and local communities in the middle of the country. We do this by studying broad economic trends and building data-driven and community-tested partnerships, programs and policies to address the needs of the heartland – all while helping to change the narrative about the middle of the country and kick-starting economic growth.