Brown Joins Colleagues in Introducing Comprehensive Legislation to Address Black Maternal Health Crisis

Senator’s Bill Invests in Implicit Bias Training and Resources to Address the Black Maternal Mortality Crisis; Earlier This Month, Brown Introduced Legislation to Ensure Pregnant Mothers Can Access Affordable Health Care During and After Pregnancy

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has joined his colleagues in introducing the Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (Maternal CARE) Act, legislation to address persistent biases and shortcomings in our nation’s health care system that have contributed to the ongoing crisis in Black maternal mortality.

The United States is one of only thirteen countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality is now worse than it was 25 years ago. The CDC estimates that about 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications. The disparity in maternal mortality also continues to grow – as the risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes is three to four times higher for Black women than that of white women.  Further, Black women are twice as likely to suffer from life-threatening pregnancy complications.

“Too many black mothers are dying in Ohio and across the country, and it’s past time to correct the injustices that have contributed to this crisis. This is one important step we can take toward ensuring black mothers and babies are getting the care they need and deserve,” said Brown.

Specifically, Brown’s Maternal CARE Act would:

  • Invest $25 million in program to address racial bias in maternal health care. The new grant program will be directed to medical schools, nursing schools, and other health professional training programs to support evidence-based implicit bias training that will improve care for Black women by reducing bias in judgment or behavior resulting from implicit attitudes or stereotypes.
  • Allocate $125 million to identify high-risk pregnancies, and provide mothers with the culturally competent care and resources they need. The new grant program will help states develop and carry out pregnancy medical home programs. These programs improve care by incentivizing maternal health care providers to deliver integrated health care services to pregnant women and new mothers and reduce adverse maternal health outcomes, maternal deaths, and racial health disparities in maternal mortality and morbidity.
  • Help medical schools incorporate bias recognition in clinical skills testing by directing the National Academy of Medicine to study and make recommendations.

The legislation was led by Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and is cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC).

Brown’s legislation is supported by a number of organizations, including: the American College of Nurse-Midwives, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Black Women Birthing Justice, Black Women’s Health Imperative, Center for Reproductive Rights, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Commonsense Childbirth – National Perinatal Task Force, Every Mother Counts, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, March of Dimes, National Association to Advance Black Birth, National Birth Equity Collaborative, National Black Midwives Alliance, National Health Law Program, National Partnership for Women & Families, National WIC Association, National Women’s Law Center, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, WomenHeart, and 1,000 Days.

In March, Brown introduced the Healthy Maternal and Obstetric Medicine (Healthy MOM) Act, legislation to ensure that all women eligible for coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance marketplaces, as well as women eligible for other individual or group health plan coverage, can access affordable health coverage throughout their pregnancies. The bill would do this by establishing a special enrollment period (SEP) for expectant mothers. Right now, marriage, divorce, having a baby, adoption and changing jobs are considered qualifying life events that trigger a special enrollment period. However, becoming pregnant is not considered a qualifying event. The bill would also guarantee 12 months of continuous Medicaid eligibility for postpartum women, thus removing key barriers that often prevent mothers from getting the care they need after birth.

Brown’s Healthy MOM Act will work to improve outcomes by expanding quality access to care, which research demonstrates could help prevent pregnancy-related deaths.

Read more about Brown’s bill HERE.

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