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 PressleyHaitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes Advocates 'in utter disbelief' after Biden resumes Haitian repatriations Democratic bill would force Fed to defund fossil fuels MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerDOJ announces agencywide limits on chokeholds and no-knock entries Fighting poverty, the Biden way Top Senate Democrats urge Biden to take immediate action on home confinement program 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 AdamsOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Pelosi plows full speed ahead on jam-packed agenda House Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Building a culture of environmental preparedness at HBCUs MORE (D-N.C.) and Lauren UnderwoodLauren UnderwoodOvernight Hillicon Valley — Hacking goes global Report pushes for changes to diversify 'homogeneous' US cybersecurity workforce Biden's midterm strategies start to come into focus MORE (D-Ill.), the founders of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. In the Senate, it is co-sponsored by Sens. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinWarren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack This week: Democrats kick off chaotic fall with Biden's agenda at stake Bottom line MORE (D-Wis.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinOvernight Defense & National Security: War ends, but finger pointing continues Harris presides over Senate passage of bill assisting Americans fleeing Afghanistan Senate panel votes to repeal Iraq war authorizations MORE (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandHochul tells Facebook to 'clean up the act' on abortion misinformation after Texas law Democratic senators request probe into Amazon's treatment of pregnant employees The FBI comes up empty-handed in its search for a Jan. 6 plot MORE (D-N.Y.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisRepublicans caught in California's recall trap Harris facilitates coin toss at Howard University football game Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE (D-Calif.), the latter of whom has also raised the issue of black maternal deaths during her 2020 presidential campaign.