Congress members push for legislation that supports POC mothers

Women's Health


WASHINGTON (NEWS10) — As Black women across New York struggle with access to maternal health care and negative health outcomes due to racial and systemic discrimination, members of Congress announced legislation to fight for “maternal health and reproductive justice” for Black women and pregnant people of color.

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 was introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC) and Lauren Underwood (D-IL). This legislation builds on existing maternal health legislation and includes 12 bills to address the maternal health crisis and its disproportionate impact on Black women.

Following the announcement of the Act, Gillibrand and colleagues sent a letter urging Congress to include changes in the upcoming COVID-19 relief package that dedicate more resources for pregnant and postpartum individuals. Additionally, they want the legislation to combat the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis throughout this public health crisis by including the Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act in the package.

The maternal mortality crisis continues to have a disproportionate impact on Black women, who are up to three times more likely to die from a pregnancy related complication and are too often forgotten or silenced in the conversation on maternal health. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate health inequities for Black women and communities of color, we must develop a pandemic response with care and attention to maternal health. Together, the Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act, the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, and the Moms Matter Act, create the roadmap we need to uplift the voices of Black mothers in Washington, and help put an end to racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health care.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act builds on existing maternal health legislation and includes the Moms Matter Act, led by Senator Gillibrand. This Act makes investments in community-based programs that provide mental and behavioral health treatments and support to moms with maternal mental health conditions or substance use disorders. Additionally, it would provide funding for programs to grow and diversify the maternal mental and behavioral health care workforce in an effort to ensure quality, culturally competent health care.

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act is composed of twelve individual bills sponsored by Black Maternal Health Caucus members. The legislation will:  

  • Make investments that influence maternal health outcomes, like housing, transportation, and nutrition
  • Provide funding to community-based organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes and promote equity
  • Comprehensively study the unique maternal health risks facing pregnant and postpartum veterans and support VA maternity care coordination programs
  • Grow and diversify the perinatal workforce to ensure that every mom in America receives culturally congruent maternity care and support
  • Improve data collection processes and quality measures to better understand the causes of the maternal health crisis and inform solutions to address it
  • Support moms with maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders
  • Improve maternal health care and support for incarcerated moms
  • Invest in digital tools like telehealth to improve maternal health outcomes in underserved areas 
  • Promote innovative payment models to incentivize high-quality maternity care and continuity of insurance coverage from pregnancy through labor and delivery and up to one year postpartum 
  • Invest in federal programs to address the unique risks for and effects of COVID-19 during and after pregnancy and to advance respectful maternity care in future public health emergencies 
  • Invest in community-based initiatives to reduce levels of and exposure to climate change-related risks for moms and babies
  • Promote maternal vaccinations to protect the health and safety of moms and babies

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