The National Partnership for Women & Families announced support for a series of bills introduced by the Black Maternal Health Caucus in the House of Representatives today. Dubbed the "Momnibus" the Black Maternal Health Act of 2020 is a package of nine bills intended to bolster existing legislation to improve Black maternal health outcomes.
There is a maternal health crisis in the United States that affects Black women more than any other racial group. When comparing maternal health in the ten wealthiest countries in the world, the United States comes in dead last. When we examine the numbers of who dies or comes close to it, we see that Black women bear the greatest burden of this crisis. Black women are more than twice as likely as white women to die from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. And, for every life lost, there are an estimated 50 to 100 near-misses.
The Momnibus bills address the needs of Black women from multiple angles. Some provisions expand access to healthy and affordable food, stable housing and reliable transportation. Other bills address better data collection to provide critical information on why each death or near-miss happens. Other measures tackle substance use disorder, mental health needs, shackling in jails and prisons and maternal care for military veterans. Additionally, topics like quality of care and continuity of health insurance coverage through one year postpartum are also part of the package. The Momnibus harnesses the power of Black and Brown communities by creating funding programs to diversify the birth worker field so that more black and brown women can provide care. Some provisions call for reports on Native women's maternal health and increased funding to the Indian Health Services.
Dawn Godbolt, Ph.D., a health policy analyst for the National Partnership, praised Black Maternal Health Caucus Co-Chairs, Representatives Lauren Underwood and Alma Adams. "Too many Black women lose their lives trying to bring forth life, now thanks to Representatives Underwood and Adams and the Black Maternal Health Caucus, we have a plan to save black women's lives."
The nine bills which make up the Momnibus legislation address a wide range of issues that impact maternal health.
- 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 people she can trust;
- 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 1 year postpartum.
About the National Partnership
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.