Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Senator Cory Booker have reintroduced the Maximizing Outcomes for Moms through Medicaid Improvement and Enhancement of Services (MOMMIES) Act to address persistent racial maternal health disparities and mortality rates.
The bill, initially introduced by the two legislators in 2019, would push for more affordable health care for new parents by extending Medicaid coverage to postpartum people from 60 days to a full year and expanding Medicaid coverage for pregnant people to services unrelated to pregnancy.
“The United States spends more on health care than any other nation, but we still have the highest rate of maternal mortality among our peer countries,” said Senator Booker in a press release shared with ESSENCE. “We must ensure that no person, regardless of their background, faces inequities or disparities when accessing or receiving maternal care. This legislation is an important step towards addressing our nation’s health disparities and promoting equitable maternal healthcare for all. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass this critical bill.”
The legislation aims to reduce the number of pregnancy-related deaths in the United States, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control, are more than 80 percent preventable.
However, between 2000 and 2014, the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. increased by 26 percent, according to the National Institute of Health. Black women are “more than three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as white women.”
For Rep. Pressley, pushing this legislation is personal. “My paternal grandmother died in the 1950s while giving birth,” shared the Congresswoman, “and it is absolutely damning that decades later, the Black maternal morbidity crisis in America is still killing our loved ones and destabilizing our families.”
Besides expanding Medicaid coverage, this bill also aims to encourage Doula care, study telehealth, and create maternity care homes for new parents so they can get care and learn how to care for their newborns.
“With the Supreme Court’s cruel Dobbs decision only exacerbating this crisis, Congress must pass our bill to promote community-based, holistic approaches to maternity and postpartum care so that every pregnant person is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve during and after their pregnancy,” said Pressley in a statement. “Maternal health justice is a racial justice issue and a matter of life and death, and we must make comprehensive, culturally-congruent reproductive care a reality for all.”