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Rep. Soto Supports Legislative Package from Black Maternal Health Caucus

This week, Orlando Congressman Darren Soto joined Representatives Lauren Underwood and Alma Adams, Senator Cory Booker and members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus in a virtual event to unveil a historic legislative package to address the United States’ urgent maternal health crisis.

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 will build on existing maternal health legislation, like policies to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage, with 12 bills to comprehensively address every dimension of America’s maternal health crisis. The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act makes investments in social determinants of health, community-based organizations, the growth and diversification of the perinatal workforce, improvements in data collection, and support for moms and babies exposed to climate change-related risks. In addition to direct efforts to improve Black maternal health outcomes, the Momnibus focuses on high-risk populations, including veterans, incarcerated people, Native Americans, and other women and birthing people of color.

The United States has the highest pregnancy-related death rate in the developed world and the only rate that is rising. The maternal mortality rate is significantly higher among Black women, who are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications. Other birthing people of color, including Hispanic, Native American, and AAPI women, also suffer from disproportionate rates of adverse maternal health outcomes.

“For too long, women of color have been on the frontlines of the maternal mortality crisis,” said Representative Soto. “Because of the injustices associated with racial health disparities, Black women are dying in horrifying numbers. No woman and her baby should ever have to pay the price because they lack access to quality maternal care. The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act is key to improving health equity among women of color and preventing complications during and after pregnancy. I’m grateful to the leadership of Congresswomen Underwood and Adams, and I look forward to working together to advance this long-overdue legislation. It’s time we make maternal health justice a priority in our country.”

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act is composed of 12 individual bills. The legislation will:

o    Make critical investments in social determinants of health that influence maternal health outcomes, like housing, transportation, and nutrition.

o    Provide funding to community-based organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes and promote equity.

o    Comprehensively study the unique maternal health risks facing pregnant veterans and support VA maternity care coordination.

o    Grow and diversify the perinatal workforce to ensure every mom in America receives maternity care and support from people they can trust.

o    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.

o    Invest in programs to expand access to treatments and support for maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders.

o    Improve maternal health care and support for incarcerated moms.

o    Invest in digital tools like telehealth to improve maternal health outcomes in underserved areas.

o    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 1 year postpartum.

o    Strengthen programs to improve maternal health during COVID-19 and future public health emergencies.

o    Invest in community-based initiatives to reduce levels of and exposure to climate change-related risks for moms and babies.

o     Promote maternal vaccinations to protect the health and safety of moms and babies.

“As maternal mortality rates continue to drop around the world, they are rising in the U.S., leaving behind devastated families and children who will grow up never knowing their moms. This crisis demands urgent attention and serious action to save the lives of Black mothers and all women of color and birthing people across the county,” said Congresswoman Underwood, co-chair and co-founder of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. “I’m leading the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act with Representative Alma Adams,  Senator Cory Booker, and other Members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus because no mother should go through pregnancy, labor and delivery, or the postpartum period without the respectful care and comprehensive support they need and deserve. Together, we can – and must – take the bold actions that will be required to save our moms, end disparities, and achieve true maternal health justice.”

“As I’ve said since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the disproportionate rate of mortality and morbidity among Black women is a crisis within a crisis,” said Congresswoman Adams. “Tens of thousands of pregnant people have contracted COVID-19, the vast majority being Black and Brown mothers. As the pandemic rages on, access to quality maternal care has decreased as the barriers to receiving care have increased. That’s why, in the 117th Congress, I’m reintroducing the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act and the Kira Johnson Act. I’ll continue to work with Vice President Kamala Harris, Senator Cory Booker, and my Caucus co-Chair Representative Lauren Underwood to ensure everyone has access to high-quality maternity care, no matter where they live, how much they earn, or the color of their skin. The Momnibus provides a comprehensive set of policy solutions and a roadmap for addressing maternal health disparities. Black mamas can’t afford to wait.”

“As the rest of the world works to improve maternal health outcomes, skyrocketing maternal mortality rates here in the United States are precipitating a public health crisis — one that puts mothers of color especially at risk,” said Senator Booker. “We simply cannot continue to accept this alarming status quo. This is why I am proud to introduce the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act with Representatives Underwood and Adams that will save moms’ lives and improve health outcomes for all birthing people.”

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