HC One Supports Postpartum Medicaid Extension in House COVID Bill

Chicago – Last night the House Energy and Commerce Committee released the legislative text for its COVID-19 relief legislation, which includes a provision to support state efforts to extend Medicaid coverage in the postpartum period. 

Dr. Twylla Dillon, HealthConnect One Executive Director, released the following statement in support of this critical provision to the Energy and Commerce Committee Covid-19 Relief Legislation:

“In this critical pandemic moment, long-standing health inequities in birth experiences in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities put women, birthing people, and babies center stage. These inequities do not only present a public health issue for our communities. Instead, they and other health inequities are alerting us to the inevitable challenges to control COVID-19. We must address inequities in birth, COVID-19, and other health issues. 

“State maternal mortality review committees across the country have identified Medicaid extension in the postpartum period as a foundational policy for addressing our nation’s maternal mortality crisis. If enacted, the postpartum Medicaid extension provision in the COVID-19 relief legislation will be a significant down payment on Congress’ continued efforts to end preventable maternal death and eliminate racial inequities in maternal health outcomes. The postpartum Medicaid policy included in the COVID-19 bill is an important and necessary step towards this goal.” 

The postpartum Medicaid extension provision included in the E&C bill would:

  • Provide an option for states to extend Medicaid coverage to 12 months postpartum, which will streamline state efforts to achieve this policy. We’ll need to continue to advocate for this policy to be mandatory for states with sufficient federal matching funds;
  • Require full Medicaid benefits 
  • Apply to all postpartum individuals with Medicaid coverage regardless of eligibility pathway;
  • Apply to all postpartum individuals with Medicaid coverage regardless of health condition Apply to all postpartum individuals with CHIP coverage in those states that extend coverage to pregnant individuals under CHIP;
  • Not include additional federal matching funds. A significant FMAP bump is something we’ll need to continue to advocate for.
  • Sunset after 5 years. We’ll need to continue to advocate for a permanent policy for Medicaid extension to 12 months postpartum.

HealthConnect One is the national leader in advancing equitable, community-based, peer-to-peer support for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and early parenting. HealthConnect One is committed to collaborating with Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities to ensure safe and healthy pregnancies and births, thriving babies and families, and successful early parenting and nutrition.


Kristian Ramos

Autonomy Strategies

Historic legislation introduced on Black Maternal Health

On Monday, February 8, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, Congresswoman Alma Adams, Senator Cory Booker, and the Black Maternal Health Caucus introduced historic legislation to address the maternal health crisis for Black women and birthing people of color.

Call your member of Congress today! Let them know you want them to support birthing families.

When you call your member of Congress, the staff keeps track of the issues people are concerned about to help your member of Congress decide where to focus. When you call, you help your member of Congress by letting them know about important issues and legislation that will make a difference in your community.

Your call makes a difference!

Call your member of Congress today and tell them you need them to support birth justice – the most fundamental of racial justice issues – by supporting the Momnibus.

Here’s how:

Call the Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the office of your member of Congress.

When calling, say that you are a constituent and you want your member of Congress to support the Momnibus.

Here are some talking points:

– Black moms in the US are 3 to 4 times as likely to die from pregnancy-related complications

– The Momnibus includes 12 bills to address the drivers of this crisis and #SaveMoms

– Black moms, women of color, & birthing people in the U.S. should not lose their lives bringing life into the world

– The Momnibus is a historic step forward towards achieving maternal health justice

– We must invest in solutions to save Black moms, women of color, & birthing people in the U.S.

The Momnibus will also support the birth worker community by:

Investing in community-based organizations and diversifying and growing the birth worker community.

Your voice is so important- join us in letting members of Congress know that we need them – now more than ever – to support birthing people, mothers, babies, and families.

With thanks from the HealthConnect One team!

Honoring Birth Justice Heroes: Looking To The Past As We Chart A New Future

Many active birth justice heroes embody Sankofa, a Ghanaian symbol that represents the importance of looking back to our traditions and culture as we move forward. It is essential that as we work toward birth justice, we bring forward our brilliance and traditions to promote unity, wellness and health in our Black community and innovate toward a brighter future.

In the last year, the needs of moms and babies in the Black community have been increasingly overshadowed by the pandemic, racial tension and the associated fallout. Birth justice leaders have persisted and adapted their work despite the challenges, leaning in, advocating with and supporting moms, babies, families and communities. We will proudly honor the work being done by partners and collaborators in the Black community to promote birth justice throughout the month and the year, because the greatness, progress and innovation of the Black community must be celebrated each day, not just in February.

We have begun our planning for our W.K. Kellogg First Food Equity Program, where we will facilitate positive change to ensure culturally reflective breastfeeding support in 20 locations across the US.

HealthConnect One is working to rebuild community health by partnering and collaborating with Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities that experience the greatest inequity in the current system. As our country grapples with pandemic-related challenges and the movement toward racial and social justice, the time is now to support and advance outcomes that build healthy communities. 

HealthConnect One is the national leader in advancing equitable, community-based, peer-to-peer support for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and early parenting. HealthConnect One is committed to collaborating with Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities to ensure safe and healthy pregnancies and births, thriving babies and families, and successful early parenting and nutrition.

Racial Equity for All Moms, Babies and Families

It was a warm day in August 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his powerful “I Have A Dream” speech to a peaceful crowd of marchers at the Lincoln Memorial. “I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”

Now more than ever, Dr. King’s dream resonates with families across the nation. It comes at a turbulent time when Black, Brown, and Indigenous families are devastated by Covid-19, racial tensions, and the aftermath of an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Today, we look to Dr. King’s legacy for answers to these pressing issues because his life is a lesson of hope for all of us. Dr. King’s words and acts of nonviolent resistance like grassroots organizing and protests demonstrate the power of social change.  We must continue this legacy with vitality and commitment to dismantling racism and the systems that uphold it.

Dr. King’s example and leadership are important for HealthConnect One as we continue to fight for racial equity. We do this through co-developed peer-to-peer programs that decrease maternal and infant mortality and increase bonding, breastfeeding, maternal support networks, and early learning for infants. Our vision is to see every Black, Brown, and Indigenous mom, baby, and family thrive in a healthy community.

As we continue to work towards a collective “American dream,” we encourage you to be intentional each day in centering and lifting Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities who are struggling while “dreaming of the day they can live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character.”

Protect Democracy for Moms, Babies and Families

Shirley Chilsom once said, “unless we start to fight and defeat the enemies in our own country, poverty, and racism, and make our talk of equality and opportunity ring true, we are exposed in the eyes of the world as hypocrites when we talk about making people free.”

All these years later, America is still combating poverty, racism, and we are still fighting for decency.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the insurrection that took place in our nation’s capital over the certification of our election results. Make no mistake, the world watched the chaos in the capital.

This assault on our democracy is sending the wrong message.  

We should be celebrating the election of Rev. Raphael Gamaliel Warnock for his historic win, becoming the first Black senator from Georgia. 

We should be congratulating US Senator-elect Jon Ossoff on his election. 

Both Warnock and Ossoff support the Affordable Care Act, which is critical to healthy births in the Black, Brown and Indigenous communities where HealthConnect One co-develops programs with community members and organizations. Both Warnock and Ossoff uphold women’s rights, particularly their pro-choice position aligns with our position on bodily autonomy at HealthConnect One. 

Despite the violence that took place in D.C., I encourage those of us who are intent on improving the lives and health of Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities to be proud of what we can accomplish when we work collectively. We should be invigorated and bolder than ever before to work for what is just and right in a nation where freedom is considered a central tenet.


Dr. Twylla Dillion
Executive Director

Home Visiting Yearbook 2020

HealthConnect One is excited to be featured in the 2020 Home Visiting Yearbook by The National Home Visiting Resource Center (NHVRC). The yearbook is a nationwide and state-by-state look at early childhood home visiting. The publication presents 2019 data from evidence-based and emerging home visiting models and from state agencies to highlight the following:

-Where programs operate, the families they serve, and the families who could benefit but are not being reached

-State, tribal, and model profiles

-Services delivered by state awardees of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV)

NHVRC is also offering a downloadable file of key home visiting service data. Visit nhvrc.org to browse these and other resources and to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the data collection process.

You can download the HealthConnect One profile here….

You can download the full Home Visiting Yearbook here…

Post Election: Supporting Black, Brown, & Indigenous Moms, Babies, & Families

Dear friends,
The sun came up this morning, the garbage truck came and honked because we forgot to take out the trash, my kids, husband, and I scrambled to get everyone where they needed to be. Like every other morning, we got to where we need to be, and our work continues.
We at HealthConnect One and other birth equity organizations have so much critical work to do. No matter the result of the many elections, including the presidential one, our communities will need us to step up our work to improve their residents’ lives.
We must continue to lift the conversation that birth equity is our first and most fundamental experience with racial equity. We must continue to elevate the voices of Black, Brown, and Indigenous women/birthing people in maternal-child health. We must continue to collaborate with communities to prepare community health workers and arrive at the solutions faster. We must continue to be responsive to the changing landscape at the county, state, and national levels.  We must continue to advocate for economic equity for the work done by community health workers, including community-based doulas and peer lactation counselors.
We need to learn from this electoral experience and carry those learnings with us in our work. HealthConnect One is committed to supporting our communities to have ongoing understanding and participation in the legislative process, including communicating with legislators on birth, reproductive, economic, and racial justice issues.
Finally, no matter the outcomes of this Election Day, HealthConnect One will continue to be undeterred in our work to support birth equity in communities that have been and continue to be impacted most deliberately and profoundly by systemic, structural, interpersonal, and internalized racism.


Dr. Twylla Dillion
Executive Director
HealthConnect One 

Virtual Meet & Greet with Dr. Twylla Dillion

Join us for a virtual meet and greet event to get to know our new Executive Director, Dr. Twylla Dillion! She has a great vision for HealthConnect One and wants to share it with all of our supporters!

In her prior work at United Way of Greater Rochester, Dr. Dillion focused on using data and analytics across the fundraising, grantmaking, and evaluation cycle. Additionally, Dr. Dillion has conducted research on breastfeeding, served as program officer for maternal-child health programs, and worked as a research lead on a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the project focused on collaborating with Black moms better to understand contributors to Black maternal mortality/morbidity and develop strategies for better outcomes.


This virtual event will be moderated by Jeretha McKinley, HC One Program Director. During the meet and greet, we’ll have a Q&A session where you’ll get the opportunity to ask Dr. Dillion questions about the maternal health issues that matter to you!

HC One Announces New Executive Director: Twylla Dillion, MBA, PhD.

Dear Friends,

The HealthConnect One Board of Directors is thrilled to announce Dr. Twylla Dillion as our new Executive Director. She is joining the organization on Monday, September 14, 2020.

She comes to HealthConnect One from the United Way of Greater Rochester and has also recently served as lead for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCORI) Black Maternal Mortality project with the Healthy Baby Network. Her experience in maternal-child health, community-based participatory research (CBPR), Medicaid reform and philanthropy will be an asset to HealthConnect One as we begin this next chapter of our organizational story.

Dr. Dillion shares our commitment to advance respectful, community-based, peer-to-peer support for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and early parenting. Dr. Dillion believes that “to ensure equity, all mothers should have access to the tools needed to guide their birth experience, including advocacy, birth equity, and breastfeeding, doula, and community health worker support. HealthConnect One plays a pivotal role in supporting birth equity, and I am proud to join the organization at this crucial time.”

The HealthConnect One Board and staff look forward to working with Dr. Dillion to advance equity in maternal and child health, so that every baby, mother, and family can thrive in a healthy community.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Dillion to HealthConnect One – I know that she is eager to connect with you and all of our partners and friends in the weeks to come.


Mairita Smiltars,
Board President
HealthConnect One

New Issue Brief: Maternal Health In Puerto Rico During COVID-19

Perhaps the biggest structural challenge posed by COVID-19 is the strain that the pandemic is placing on healthcare systems.

The human costs, however, are much more significant – recent data has shown that Black, Indigenous, Black Latinx and Latinx (BIPOC) populations and poorer people have higher rates of infection and are more likely to die from COVID-19.

For birthing families in Puerto Rico this could mean less attention in an already over-burdened system, a heightened susceptibility to exposure and infection, and an increase in adverse maternal health outcomes. Any public health response to COVID-19 must include a focus on birth equity work and center the needs of birthing families that are facing the greatest hardship during this pandemic.

Key components of this brief include:

  • Disparities in outcomes pre Covid-19
  • Birthing during a pandemic
  • Recommendations

For more information on this topic, please send questions or comments to Khadija Gurnah, Director of Policy and Advocacy at info@healthconnectone.org.

More: We also partnered with Alimentación Segura Infantil (ASI) in Puerto Rico (PR) to present related webinars in English and Spanish. You can view the webinars here. 

Download Maternal Health in Puerto Rico During COVID-19

Please complete the form above to download our new report. Downloadable versions are available in English and Spanish. 

Image credit: Karla Rosas / IG: @karlinche_