Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) introduced an expansive bill as a way of combatting the troubling rise of maternal mortality, which severely and disproportionately impacts Black mothers.
The Maximizing Outcomes for Moms through Medicaid Improvement and Enhancement of Services (MOMMIES) Act, introduced ahead of Mother’s Day, seeks to expand coverage for pregnant women covered by Medicaid, which covers nearly half of all births in the U.S.
The bill would extend Medicaid coverage for postpartum women up to a full year after giving birth—a huge leap from the current limit of 60 days, according to a press release.
The bill is also pushing to make sure that all pregnant and postpartum women have full Medicaid coverage, as opposed to coverage limited to only pregnancy-related services. It also seeks to increase access to primary care providers and women’s health providers, such as increased access to doula care.
“The lived experiences of Black women demonstrate how racism and trauma directly impacts the health and wellbeing of marginalized communities for generations,” Rep. Pressley said. “Maternal justice is about ensuring that every mom-to-be is listened to and treated with dignity and respect during and after childbirth. The 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.”
“We live in a nation that spends more than any other country on health care, yet we still have the highest rate of pregnancy-related deaths of any country in the developed world,” Booker added, according to the press release. “And Black women are nearly four times as likely to die from complications related to pregnancy than white women – in New Jersey they are five times as likely. New Jersey also has the ignominious distinction of having the fifth-highest rate of maternal mortality in the U.S. We simply cannot continue to accept this alarming status quo – we must do something about it and this bill is an important first step. By expanding Medicaid coverage for pregnant women, we can begin to stem the rising tide of maternal mortality and close the egregious racial gaps that exist in maternal and infant health outcomes.”
The bill, which is touted in the release as being “one of the most far-reaching proposals ever introduced in Congress to address maternal health” has gained broad endorsement from various women’s, reproductive rights, and maternal health groups—including the Ancient Song Doula Services, Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Black Women’s Health Imperative, MomsRising, Every Mother Counts, the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.
“Every Mother Counts commends Sen. Booker for his leadership re-introducing the MOMMIES Act to tackle some of the biggest problems confronting our maternity care system. The Act takes a comprehensive approach, going beyond putting a band-aid on a broken system, by enhancing available support services and filling gaps in the system that lead to poor health outcomes. Because Medicaid covers nearly half of all births in the U.S., this bill has the potential to shift maternity care standards across the board,” Christy Turlington Burns, Founder and CEO, Every Mother Counts, said in the release.