The United States allocates more money per person than any other country in the world on health care. Yet somehow, the U.S. is the only developed nation with a persistently growing maternal mortality rate. Roughly 700 women die a year as a result of pregnancy related deaths, 60 percent of which are preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It’s because of these staggering statistics that Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Senator Cory Booker are backing a new bill called the MOMMIES Act. Maximizing Outcomes for Moms through Medicaid Improvement and Enhancement of Services. The bill’s objective is to significantly lower preventable pregnancy related deaths in the United States by increasing assistance and services provided by Medicaid for women both pre and postnatal.
Maternal death is not only an economic issue, it’s also a race issue. In the United States, black women are four times more likely to die from pregnancy and childbirth than white women.
“It’s hard to believe that was the case in the 1950s and black women are still disproportionately dying in childbirth or in the days thereafter. Even Beyoncé and Serena Williams admitted that they wouldn’t be able to survive their pregnancies if it wasn’t for the fact that they could afford high-quality care,” said Pressley. “The lived experiences of Black women demonstrate how racism and trauma directly impacts the health and wellbeing of marginalized communities for generations. Maternal justice is about ensuring that every mom-to-be is listened to and treated with dignity and respect during and after childbirth.”
Currently, Medicaid will only cover postnatal mothers for up to 60 days after the date of childbirth. The MOMMIES Act aims to extend this coverage for up to 365 days after birth. In addition, the bill will expand a woman’s access to maternity care via telemedicine – which is medical treatment and diagnosis through technological and digital means. It will also advance Medicaid coverage for doulas, a method of pregnancy support that is rapidly becoming more popular in the United States.
This would also fall under the bills plan to initiate a Maternity Care Home Demonstration Project (MCHDP) to increase all-encompassing medical care for pregnant women, ranging from dental care to mental health services that are culturally competent and humane. Furthermore, the act will raise the minimum Medicaid reimbursement for gynecological treatments as well as enlist Medicaid to cover a wider range of services in general, not just those related to pregnancy.
If you would like to join Congresswoman Pressley and Senator Booker in supporting the MOMMIES Act, go to https://everymothercounts.org/what-can-i-do/take-action/