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An Act for All New Mothers

July 28, 2021 by Victoria Turner

Concerned with Black mothers’ increasing maternal death rates in the U.S., members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus introduced the Black Maternal Health Omnibus Act of 2021 to cover every phase of the maternal health crisis. The act should benefit all new U.S. mothers, who are dying at the highest reported rate among developed nations. But Black mothers warrant special attention, with a death rate 3 to 4 times higher than other mothers. 

The majority of these deaths are preventable, charged Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event Wednesday. 

Despite present socioeconomic determinants of health like education status, these “are not protective factors in the way that you might usually anticipate,” she said. 

College-graduated Black women have 5.2 times more pregnancy-related deaths than their White counterparts. 

The cross-sectional 12-bill package addresses:

  • Housing, transportation and nutrition investment for new mothers. 
  • Investments in housing, transportation and nutrition for new mothers.
  • Funding for community groups working to improve maternal health.
  • Study of unique risks for pregnant, postpartum veterans.
  • Increasing and improving the perinatal workforce.
  • Improved data collection to form crisis solutions.
  • Support for maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders.
  • Improved health care for incarcerated mothers.
  • Digital tools like telehealth in underserved areas.
  • Payment incentives for high-quality maternity care and insurance coverage from pregnancy until one year postpartum.
  • Federal programs addressing unique risks for and effects of COVID-19.
  • Climate change risks for mothers and babies.
  • Vaccinations to protect the health and safety of mothers and babies.

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