The United States has the worst maternal death rates in the developed world and black women, in particular, are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications. To combat that, a historic legislative package to address the United States’ urgent maternal health crisis was introduced today.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), helped to introduce Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2020, which is led by Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Representatives Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and Alma Adams (NC-12). The legislation will build on existing maternal health legislation by filling gaps through nine new bills to comprehensively address every dimension of the Black maternal health crisis.
“Maternal and infant mortality rates are tragically high in Wisconsin, and they are even higher in the Black community. We need to do more to make sure women and families have access to quality, affordable health care,” said Senator Baldwin in a statement. “We know that healthier pregnancies lead to healthier babies. That’s why I’m working with my colleagues to provide more resources to expecting moms and address the challenges in our maternal health system so mothers and pregnant women can get the care they need.”
“Black women across the country are dying from pregnancy and childbirth complications at astounding rates- and the disparity transcends income and education levels,” said Senator Harris in a press release. “It is critical that the federal government work with states, local health providers, and mothers and their families to address the crisis and save lives. The Black Maternal Health Momnibus will address many barriers to care so we can improve maternal health outcomes and help ensure women—especially Black women—have access to comprehensive, culturally competent care.”
The Black Maternal Health Momnibus is composed of nine individual bills. The legislation will:
- Make critical investments in social determinants of health that influence maternal health outcomes, like housing, transportation, and nutrition;
- Provide funding to community-based organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes, particularly for Black women;
- Comprehensively study the unique maternal health risks facing women veterans and invest in VA maternity care coordination;
- Grow and diversify the perinatal workforce to ensure that every mom in America receives maternity care and support from trusted providers;
- Improve data collection processes and quality measures to better understand the causes of the maternal health crisis in the United States and inform solutions to address it;
- Invest in maternal mental health care and substance use disorder treatments;
- Improve maternal health care and support for incarcerated women;
- Invest in digital tools like telehealth to improve maternal health outcomes in underserved areas; and
- Promote innovative payment models to incentivize high-quality maternity care and continuity of health insurance coverage from pregnancy through labor and delivery and up to one year postpartum.