Blunt Rochester, Fitzpatrick, Underwood Introduce Bipartisan Moms Matter Act to Help Address America’s Maternal Health Crisis as part of Momnibus Package
May 15, 2023
WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) and Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.), introduced the Moms Matter Act, legislation to establish a Maternal Mental Health Equity Grant Program to invest in local initiatives supporting people with mental health conditions or substance use disorders during or after pregnancy. This legislation also provides funding for programs to grow and diversify the maternal mental and behavioral health care workforce to expand access to high-quality maternal health care and substance use disorder services – given that suicide and drug overdose are the leading causes [cdc.gov] of death for new mothers. The bill’s introduction follows Mother’s Day.
The Moms Matter Act is one of 13 evidence-based bills that make up the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, a historic legislative package to address the United States’ urgent maternal health crisis. Blunt Rochester joined Representatives Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) and Alma Adams (D-N.C.), Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D.-N.Y.), and members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus in introducing this package today.
“In the richest nation on the earth, moms are dying at the highest rate in the developed world. It’s unacceptable, and it’s up to Congress to support evidenced-based solutions to fix it,” said Congresswoman Blunt Rochester, a member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus and the House Health Subcommittee. “Today, I was proud to introduce the bipartisan Moms Matter Act with Rep. Fitzpatrick as part of the Momnibus package to tackle the maternal mortality crisis in the United States. My bill will make critical investments in community-based programs that provide mental and behavioral health treatments and support to moms with maternal mental health conditions or substance use disorders. I am committed to working with my colleagues to get this bill to President Biden’s desk so we can combat this urgent health crisis, tackle racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes, and ultimately, save Moms’ lives.”
“Too many new mothers do not have access to comprehensive mental health care and substance abuse disorder treatment, and as a result, the maternal mortality rate has spiked. Congress must address this crisis,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Moms Matter Act, which will ensure that high-quality mental health care is available to new mothers in need.”
“To save moms’ lives and end the maternal health crisis in our country, we need urgent action,” said Congresswoman Underwood. “We know what’s needed to end this crisis, and the tools to get it done are within reach. The Momnibus is the solution, and I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Representative Alma Adams and Senator Cory Booker to make the investments we need to solve our country’s maternal health crisis.”
“Congress has a moral responsibility to address the maternal mortality epidemic in this nation. Childbirth should be safe for all, but Black women in the United States are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than White women due to deep systemic racial inequities,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am proud to introduce the Moms Matter Act, which would invest in programs to support moms with maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders. My Moms Matter Act is included in the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act package, which is made up of a comprehensive set of bills to help address drivers of maternal mortality and disparities to protect Black mothers during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. The high maternal mortality rate in the United States is a healthcare crisis. I will always fight to ensure that every mother receives high-quality health care regardless of race or socioeconomic status.”
The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act will build on existing maternal health legislation, like policies to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage, with 13 bills to comprehensively address every dimension of America’s maternal health crisis. The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act makes investments in the social determinants of health – such as housing, transportation, and nutrition. The package also invests in community-based organizations, the growth and diversification of the perinatal workforce, improvements in data collection, and support for moms and babies exposed to climate change-related risks. In addition to direct efforts to improve Black maternal health outcomes, the Momnibus focuses on high-risk populations, including veterans, incarcerated people, Native Americans, and other women and birthing people of color.
The United States has the highest pregnancy-related death rate in the developed world and the only rate that is rising. The maternal mortality rate is significantly higher among Black women, who are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications. Other birthing people of color, including Hispanic, Native American, and AAPI women, also suffer from disproportionate rates of adverse maternal health outcomes.
The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act is comprised of 13 bills that will:
- Make critical investments in social determinants of health that influence maternal health outcomes, like housing, transportation, and nutrition.
- Extend WIC eligibility in the postpartum and breastfeeding periods.
- Provide funding to community-based organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes and promote equity.
- Increase funding for programs to improve maternal health care for veterans.
- Grow and diversify the perinatal workforce to ensure that every mom in America receives maternal health care and support from people they 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.
- Support moms with maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders.
- Improve maternal health care and support for incarcerated moms.
- Invest in digital tools to improve maternal health outcomes in underserved areas.
- Promote innovative payment models to incentivize high-quality maternity care and non-clinical support during and after pregnancy.
- Invest in federal programs to address maternal and infant health risks during public health emergencies.
- Invest in community-based initiatives to reduce levels of and exposure to climate change-related risks for moms and babies.
- Promote maternal vaccinations to protect the health of moms and babies.
A one-pager on the Moms Matter Act can be found here [bluntrochester.house.gov].
A full summary of the Momnibus package can be found here [bluntrochester.house.gov].