Black Maternal Health Caucus Introduces Legislative Package to Fight Maternal Mortality

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07), a member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, introduced a historic bipartisan legislative “Momnibus” package that builds on existing legislation in Congress to comprehensively address America’s Black maternal health crisis.

“The bottom line is that in this nation of so much wealth and prosperity, there is no reason that African American women should be dying at rates three times that of white women in pregnancy and childbirth,” Sewell said. “We are in a crisis, especially in Alabama, which has some of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the nation. We have an opportunity here to support our families, moms and babies by passing these critically important investments in women’s health care.”

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2020 includes several provisions that will:

  • Invest in social determinants of health. Social determinants of health like housing, transportation, and nutrition access have significant impacts on maternal health outcomes. The Momnibus makes key investments and advances critical research to save moms and end disparities.
  • Invest in community-based organizations. Community-based organizations and culturally congruent maternal health care are essential in the fight against maternal mortality rates.
  • Improve data collection processes. The legislation improves data collection processes to better
  • ‍Grow and diversify the perinatal health workforce. According to March of Dimes, one third of U.S. counties are “maternity care deserts.” In Alabama, The Momnibus will grow and diversify the perinatal workforce so no matter where a mom lives, she can access maternal health care and support from people she trusts.
  • Promote innovative payment models. The legislation establishes an innovative payment model to incentivize value and promote excellent care for every mom, with a particular focus on ending disparities in outcomes.
  • Protect incarcerated moms. In 2018, the First Step Act banned the shackling of pregnant women in federal prisons. The Momnibus ensures that practice ends in state and local facilities, and funds programs to improve maternal health outcomes for incarcerated moms.
  • Invest in women veterans. The bill will comprehensively study the unique maternal health risks facing women veterans and invest in VA maternity care coordination.

In addition to Sewell, the legislation was introduced by Reps. Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and Alma Adams (NC-12). U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

A section-by-section summary of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus can be found here.

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