Booker, Ayanna Pressley introduce bill taking aim at black maternal death rates

Booker, Ayanna Pressley introduce bill taking aim at black maternal death rates
© Greg Nash

Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyIlhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley dance to Lizzo's 'Truth Hurts' in video Bill Maher, Michael Moore spar over Democrats' strategy for 2020 Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSunday shows - Guns dominate after Democratic debate Booker defends middle-ground health care approach: 'We're going to fight to get there' Sunday shows preview: Democratic candidates make the rounds after debate MORE (D-N.J.), who is running for president, have introduced legislation that would take action to reduce maternal mortality rates, citing particularly high rates for black women.

The bill, the Healthy MOMMIES Act, would expand Medicaid coverage to ensure comprehensive prenatal, labor and postpartum care, extending the program’s pregnancy pathway from 60 days to a full year after giving birth and ensuring new mothers have access to services beyond pregnancy-related health care, such as oral health services.

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The legislation would also increase Medicaid minimum reimbursement rates for maternal and obstetric services for people in underserved areas, improving Medicaid patients’ access to primary care providers and establish a demonstration project studying maternity care homes “using a health and racial equity approach.”

It would also direct Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program's Payment and Access Commission to report data on coverage of doula care under state Medicaid programs and develop strategies to improve access to doula care both pre- and postpartum, and require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to issue guidance for states on increasing doula care under Medicaid and require the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress how state Medicaid programs are using telemedicine to increase access to maternity care.

“The lived experiences of Black women demonstrate how racism and trauma directly impact the health and wellbeing of marginalized communities for generations,” Pressley said in a statement. “Maternal justice is about ensuring that every mom-to-be is listened to and treated with dignity and respect during and after childbirth. The Healthy MOMMIES Act would do just that by promoting a community-based, holistic approach to maternal care that recognizes current disparities in healthcare and critical environmental factors impacting communities.”

Black women are four times more likely to die from complications related to pregnancy during and after childbirth and twice as likely to lose their child to premature deaths, Pressley noted, while Medicaid pregnancy coverage currently ends 60 days after birth despite the fact that nearly 20 percent of maternal deaths occur between six weeks and a year after childbirth.

The bill is co-sponsored in the House by Reps. Alma AdamsAlma Shealey AdamsTo boost minority serving institutions, bipartisan Future Act needs immediate action Ensuring AI benefits everyone, tech must have a diverse pipeline Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment MORE (D-N.C.) and Lauren UnderwoodLauren UnderwoodIlhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley dance to Lizzo's 'Truth Hurts' in video The Hill's Morning Report - US coastline readies for Hurricane Dorian to make landfall Swing-seat Democrats oppose impeachment, handing Pelosi leverage MORE (D-Ill.), the founders of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. In the Senate, it is co-sponsored by Sens. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinFederal funding for Chinese buses risks our national security Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall The Trump downturn: Trouble ahead for the US economy MORE (D-Wis.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinCongress passes bill to begin scenic byways renaissance GOP lawmaker: 'Dangerous' abuse of Interpol by Russia, China, Venezuela Senators pressure Trump to help end humanitarian crisis in Kashmir MORE (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandAt debate, Warren and Buttigieg tap idealism of Obama, FDR Trump court pick sparks frustration for refusing to answer questions Klobuchar, Buttigieg find themselves accidentally flying to debate together MORE (D-N.Y.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Gun control: Campaigning vs. legislating Booker defends middle-ground health care approach: 'We're going to fight to get there' MORE (D-Calif.), the latter of whom has also raised the issue of black maternal deaths during her 2020 presidential campaign.