Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021

Source: Arushi C.

Black women continue to die at a significantly greater rate than white women after delivery. Senator Tim Kaine is now seeking to persuade the United States Senate to act on this. 

Maternal mortality is the yearly number of female fatalities from any cause connected to or worsened by pregnancy or its treatment, excluding accidental or incidental causes during pregnancy and childbirth or within 42 days after the termination of pregnancy, regardless of pregnancy duration or location. The maternal mortality rate for Black women is almost three times higher than for white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s a disparity that has concerned health officials for years. Now, Senator Tim Kaine has a new bill he hopes will help get to the bottom of why this is happening for African-American women and what can be done about it.

However, for the bill to be done to the best of its ability, some statistics come into the equation. A majority of ethnic groups that are missing from the overall statistical calculations are Latinos. This just means that the statistics for Latinos are considered at a lower maternal mortality rate simply because there isn’t a lot of survey information available.

There are a couple of answers as to why from Senator Tim Kaine, it is stated below. 

“The Latino mortality rate is not so dramatically different, but that may be an undercounting problem because of some Latino women not coming forward with information because they’re worried about immigration or other issues,” Kaine explains. “And so what we have to do is we have to pioneer new strategies to try and bring down this maternal mortality disparity.”

Black women still have struggled with this mortality rate because of racial and social prejudice, which is why the United States Senate has passed the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021.

Back in 2019, Delegate Lashrecse Aird of Petersburg was able to set aside about half a million dollars to get better data collection in Virginia. She says she’s happy to see members of Congress taking on this issue. “Representative Underwood also introduced the Momnibus Act of 2021, which is also to speak to the same efforts that Senator Kaine is making in his body,” Aird says. “I’m just really excited to see that this is top of mind for so many of our federal leaders because we need to get our arms around this crisis sooner rather than later.” Senator Kaine’s bill has bipartisan support, although so far it has yet to make it out of committee.

Mothers are dying at the highest rate in the industrialized world in the richest country on the planet, and the rate is growing. As bad as the situation is for all women and birthing people, it is especially bad for Black mothers, who are dying at three to four times the rate of their white counterparts. The concept of ethnic groups, and race are such a huge part of the statistics. In addition, many Native Americans are more than twice as likely to die as a result of pregnancy-related complications. 

According to one study, Hispanic birthing individuals in New York City reported severe maternal morbidity at 1.8 times the risk of non-Hispanic white birthing people. Another study has found that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have greater rates of maternal death during hospitalization for delivery, even when other factors influencing outcomes are taken into consideration.

To confront America’s maternal health crisis, Lawmakers have fought for vital measures such as 12-month postpartum Medicaid coverage, which would guarantee women had access to the treatment and support they needed and deserved for the entire postpartum period.

Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, Congresswoman Alma Adams, Senator Cory Booker, and members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus are launching the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 to expand on existing achievements. The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act expands on current legislation to address every aspect of America’s maternal health problems.

These are the bill’s major points. 

  • Make crucial investments in socioeconomic determinants of health, such as housing, transportation, and nutrition, which impact maternal health outcomes.
  • Fund community-based groups that seek to enhance maternal health outcomes and promote equity.
  • Investigate the particular maternal health concerns that pregnant and postpartum veterans face, and promote Veterans Affairs maternity care coordination initiatives.
  • Increase the size and diversity of the perinatal workforce to guarantee that every mother in America receives culturally appropriate maternity care and support.
  • Improve data collecting techniques and quality measures to gain a better understanding of the causes of the maternal health problem in the United States and to inform remedies.
  • Assist mothers who are suffering from maternal mental health issues or drug abuse problems.
  • Improve maternal health care and assist imprisoned mothers.
  • To enhance maternal health outcomes in marginalized regions, invest in digital technologies such as telehealth.
  • Incentivize high-quality maternity care and non-clinical perinatal assistance by promoting novel payment methods.
  • Invest in government programs that address the special dangers and impacts of COVID-19 during and after pregnancy, as well as initiatives that promote respectful maternity care in future public health emergencies.
  • Invest in community-based activities to limit parents’ and babies’ exposure to climate-change-related hazards.
  • Promote maternal vaccines to safeguard mothers’ and infants’ health and safety.

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act will accomplish the above objectives. It will also enhance data gathering techniques and quality measures to better understand the causes of the maternal health problem in the United States and inform remedies. It will also help mothers who have maternal mental health issues or substance use problems. As the points listed above, this bill authorizes multi-agency initiatives to enhance maternal health, with a focus on racial and ethnic minority communities, veterans, and other vulnerable populations.


Sources

https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/959
https://blackmaternalhealthcaucus-underwood.house.gov/Momnibus
https://www.wvtf.org/post/senator-kaines-effort-combat-maternal-mortality-disparities#stream/0
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_maternal_mortality_in_the_United_States
https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/p0905-racial-ethnic-disparities-pregnancy-deaths.html
https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/features/maternal-mortality/index.html

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