As one of over a million members of MomsRising, I am writing to ask you to support legislation to address our nation’s maternal health crisis, the Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services Act of 2019 (H.R. 4996) and the Black Maternal Health Momnibus.
Currently, the United States is the most dangerous place to give birth in the developed world, with major racial disparities where Black women die at 3-4 times the rate of white women due to maternity-related causes, independent of age, economic status, or education.
This bill, along with the Black Maternal Health Momnibus, are critical pieces of legislation that would address the racial disparity crisis in our nation’s maternal health outcomes.
The Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services Act of 2019 (H.R.4996) incentivizes state-level Medicaid extension to the entire postpartum period and invest in maternal-specific public health. This bipartisan bill would provide a one-year, 5 percentage point Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) enhancement to incentivize extension.
Currently, the majority of pregnancy-related deaths in America happen after the day of delivery, and nearly one-quarter of deaths happen more than six weeks postpartum. Yet despite the life-threatening risks that women face in the postpartum period, Medicaid currently only covers women for two months after the birth of their baby.
States that expand Medicaid improve the health of women of childbearing age by increasing access to preventive care, reducing adverse health outcomes before, during and after pregnancies, and reducing maternal mortality rates. Better health for women of childbearing age also means better health for their infants. States that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act saw a 50 percent greater reduction in infant mortality than non-expansion states.
The Black Maternal Health Momnibus is composed of nine individual bills sponsored by members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris. The legislation:
- Makes critical investments in social determinants of health that influence maternal health outcomes, like housing, transportation, and nutrition;
- Provides funding to community-based organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes, particularly for Black women;
- Comprehensively studies the unique maternal health risks facing women veterans and invest in VA maternity care coordination;
- Grows and diversifies the perinatal workforce to ensure that every mom in America receives maternity care and support from people she can trust;
- Improves data collection processes and quality measures to better understand the causes of the maternal health crisis in the United States and inform solutions to address it;
- Invests in maternal mental health care and substance use disorder treatments;
- Improves maternal health care and support for incarcerated women;
- Invests in digital tools like telehealth to improve maternal health outcomes in underserved areas; and
- Promotes innovative payment models to incentivize high-quality maternity care and continuity of health insurance coverage from pregnancy through labor and delivery and up to 1 year postpartum.
Moms should go home with their babies and watch their children and families thrive. We urge you to support the Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services Act of 2019 (H.R. 4996) and the Black Maternal Health Momnibus to comprehensively address our nation's maternal health crisis and the racial disparities present that are needlessly taking the lives of moms.