Washington, DC – Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on America’s alarming maternal mortality rate and legislation designed to address this growing crisis. The Subcommittee examined four bills, including Congresswoman Kelly’s MOMMA’s Act.
“I appreciate Chairman Pallone and Chairwoman Eshoo prioritizing maternal mortality and holding this important hearing. In the last few decades, the risk of death for new American moms has doubled, while we’ve successfully driven down maternal mortality rates across the globe,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. “Each year, we are losing between 700 and 900 new moms and tragically more than half of these deaths are entirely preventable. Today’s hearing examined several high-quality proposals to reverse this troubling trend. I remain impressed and grateful to all of my colleagues for their efforts and focus on this issue.”
The MOMMA’s Act, introduced by Congresswoman Kelly and Senator Durbin, would enact a five-pronged approach to reduce maternal deaths:
- Establishing national obstetric emergency protocols through a federal expert committee,
- Ensuring dissemination of best shared practices and coordination amongst maternal mortality review committees,
- Standardizing data collection and reporting,
- Improving access to culturally competent care throughout the care continuum, and
- Expanding Medicaid coverage to new mom’s entire post-partum period, which is one year.
Many of the priorities of the MOMMA’s Act have been successfully implemented at the hospital, system, local and state levels. Maternal mortality review committees have been shown to sharply reduce deaths by learning from past tragedies. Likewise, the AIM Bundle, developed by Council for Patient Safety in Women’s Health Care, has actively reduced maternal mortality and morbidity through emergency protocols. It is also assisting in developing and sharing best shared practices that work to save lives.
Additionally, the MOMMA’s Act builds on the bipartisan Preventing Maternal Deaths Act, passed during the 115th Congress. The legislation took major steps toward standardizing and improving data collection and reporting.
In an effort to address the gross disparity facing mothers of color, especially African American mothers, the MOMMA’s Act would expand access to culturally component care throughout the care continuum. Nationwide, African American mothers die at three-to-four times the rate of white mothers, but in Illinois, that disparity climbs to six times more likely to die. For American Indian mothers in Washington, their risk of death is eight times that of white mothers. “Across the board, we are seeing rising rates of maternal mortality but even higher rates for African Americans and women of color. It’s clear that bias is playing a big role in these shocking disparities,” said Congresswoman Kelly.
Finally, the MOMMA’s Act would expand the Medicaid coverage window to the entire post-partum period of one year. Right now, Medicaid coverage, which covers more than of half of all expecting and new moms, expires 60 days after giving birth. However, 70 percent of new moms will have at least one complication within a year of giving birth. “In order for new moms to stay healthy and keep their families healthy, they need to be able to see their doctor,” added Congresswoman Kelly.
A list of original co-sponsors and endorsing organizations is available here.
Congresswoman Kelly’s opening statement and testimony, as prepared for delivery, are available on her website. During the August District Work Period, she hosted the first in a national series of field inquires on maternal mortality.
This article originally appeared in the Chicago Defender.