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 PressleyCNN, MSNBC said 'racist' more than 4,100 times from July 14-21 Trump says 'Squad' and Dems have 'Trump Derangement Syndrome' over impeachment 2020 RNC host city Charlotte condemns Trump's 'racist and xenophobic' remarks MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker takes swipe at Biden criminal justice reform plan Democrats, advocacy groups urge Pompeo to abolish new 'unalienable rights' commission Biden announces plan to counteract mass incarceration 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 AdamsHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Serena Williams, Mark Cuban invest in company working to end black maternal mortality Harris introduces bill to combat racial bias in maternal health care MORE (D-N.C.) and Lauren UnderwoodLauren UnderwoodSerena Williams, Mark Cuban invest in company working to end black maternal mortality Freshman members form bipartisan task force on election vulnerabilities ahead of 2020 The Hill's Campaign Report: Debate puts Biden on the defensive MORE (D-Ill.), the founders of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. In the Senate, it is co-sponsored by Sens. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump applauds two-year budget deal with 0 billion spending hike Overnight Health Care: Trump official knocks public option | House drug pricing bill coming in September | HHS holds off on enforcing new family planning rules | FDA launches anti-vaping ads The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Mueller ahead of testimony MORE (D-Wis.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinCan new US Strategy on Women, Peace & Security give women a real seat at the table? Ask Afghan women Maryland lawmakers slam 'despicable' Trump remark about journalists on newsroom shooting anniversary Democrats leery of Sanders plan to cancel student loan debt MORE (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandDemocrats, advocacy groups urge Pompeo to abolish new 'unalienable rights' commission Harris, Nadler introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana Gillibrand says she doesn't regret calling for Franken to resign MORE (D-N.Y.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisPoll: Biden leads 2020 Democratic field by 15 points, followed by Sanders and Warren Democrats, advocacy groups urge Pompeo to abolish new 'unalienable rights' commission Biden announces plan to counteract mass incarceration MORE (D-Calif.), the latter of whom has also raised the issue of black maternal deaths during her 2020 presidential campaign.