U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced two vital pieces of legislation to address the Black maternal health crisis during Black Maternal Health week. The Modernizing Obstetric Medicine Standards (MOMS) Act, would expand the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) program, which develops standardized maternal safety best practices to prevent maternal mortality and morbidity, and would establish a new grant program to provide states and hospitals with the resources and training needed to implement the best practices to prevent maternal death and complications before, during, and after childbirth.
Gillibrand also announced the Maternal CARE Act which would support states in their work to end preventable morbidity and mortality in maternity care by creating two new grants programs. The first is a competitive grant program for schools educating the health workforce to create training programs to address implicit bias in the health care system, in particular the areas of obstetrics and gynecology. The second establishes funding for a demonstration project to assist up to 10 states with implementing and sustaining pregnancy medical home (PMH) programs to incentivize maternal health care providers to deliver integrated health care services to pregnant women and new mothers with the aim of reducing maternal deaths and racial health disparities. U.S. Representative Alma Adams (D-NC) is the House lead of the Maternal CARE Act.
The United States continues to have the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world, driven in large part by the high mortality rates among Black mothers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S. about 700 women die each year due to a complication before, during and after childbirth. These issues disproportionately impact Black women, who are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. Despite the high number of pregnancy and childbirth complications, CDC studies have found that two out of three of all reported deaths were preventable.
A champion for women and families, Gillibrand previously joined colleagues to announce legislation to save moms’ lives and fight for maternal health and reproductive justice for Black women and pregnant people of color. Introduced by Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ), Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC) and Lauren Underwood (D-IL), The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 builds on existing maternal health legislation and includes 12 bills to comprehensively address the drivers of the maternal health crisis and its disproportionate impact on Black women. The Momnibus includes the Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act, a bill originally cosponsored by Gillibrand earlier this year. This bill would address maternal health disparities by improving data collection on COVID-19’s impact on pregnant and postpartum women, and would ensure that pregnant people– especially people of color and other at-risk populations– are included in vaccine studies and distribution plans.