May 6, 2021
Pressley, Booker, Colleagues Reintroduce MOMMIES Act to Promote Community-Based, Holistic Maternal Health Care
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) today introduced the MOMMIES (Maximizing Outcomes for Moms through Medicaid Improvement and Enhancement of Service) Act to expand coverage for pregnant people through Medicaid, which covers nearly half of all births in the United States.
The bill extends coverage for birthing people from two months to a full year after childbirth, increasing access to primary care and reproductive health providers and ensuring that all pregnant and postpartum people have full Medicaid coverage, rather than coverage that can be limited to arbitrarily picked pregnancy-related services.
The MOMMIES Act focuses on improving maternal health outcomes, reversing the trend of rising maternal mortality rates and closing persistent disparities that put Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities at greater risk of complications. It builds on the recent expansion of Medicaid coverage for pregnant postpartum people that the lawmakers helped secure through the American Rescue Plan.
The bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Cori Bush (MO-01), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Peter Welch (D-VT), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Robin L. Kelly (IL-02), Doris Matsui (CA-06), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), André Carson (IN-07), Bill Foster (IL-11), and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).
Rep. Pressley will discuss the legislation and her ongoing work on Black maternal health during an House Oversight Committee hearing today.
Between 2000 and 2014, the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. increased by 26 percent, while it decreased in nearly every other country. And stark disparities in maternal deaths exist, as Black women are more than three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as white women. Additionally, for every person who dies due to a pregnancy-related complication, dozens more suffer from unexpected outcomes from pregnancy that result in both short- and long-term consequences to a person’s health.
Specifically, the MOMMIES Act would:
- Extend Medicaid coverage for postpartum people to a full year after giving birth, rather than the current limit of 60 days that many face;
- Ensure that all pregnant and postpartum people have full Medicaid coverage, rather than coverage that can be limited to arbitrarily picked pregnancy-related services. This is particularly critical for reducing disparities, as benefits for pregnant people covered by Medicaid vary depending on their eligibility group and what state they’re located in;
- Establish a Maternity Care Home demonstration project to study the effectiveness of this innovative model of maternity care. Maternity Care Homes show great promise in improving maternal health outcomes, as they are based on a model of care that is patient-centered, coordinated, and comprehensive. Maternity Care Homes have also shown early successes in reducing health care costs, increasing the number of prenatal visits, and reducing the number of low birthweight infants. Data from the pilot programs can be used to implement the model on a wider scale;
- Extend the Affordable Care Act’s primary care bump to ensure that Medicaid beneficiaries have access to primary care providers, including reproductive health providers;
- Facilitate increased access to doula support. Doulas are support personnel who provide pregnant people with emotional, physical, and informational support. Doula support has been shown to improve maternal and infant health outcomes, particularly among people of color, but currently, only a handful of states have authorized Medicaid coverage for doulas. The MOMMIES Act would facilitate increased access to doula support by requiring the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) to publish a report on coverage of doula support under Medicaid, including recommendations for legislative and administrative actions to increase access to such support.
- Study telehealth and its potential to improve Medicaid beneficiaries’ access to maternity care. Telehealth programs show promise in increasing access to maternity care, particularly in rural and other underserved areas. To learn about telehealth’s potential to increase access to maternity care, the MOMMIES Act would require a Government Accountability Office report on states that are currently providing this coverage and recommendations for increasing access to telehealth for pregnant people.
The MOMMIES Act is endorsed by the following organizations: Ancient Song Doula Services; Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs; Black Mamas Matter Alliance; Black Women’s Health Imperative; Center for Reproductive Rights; Children’s Dental Health Project; Every Mother Counts; In Our Own Voice; March of Dimes; Moms Rising; National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum; National Health Law Program; National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health; National Partnership for Women & Families; and the National Women’s Law Center 1000 Days.
As a founding member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, Congresswoman Pressley is committed to ending the Black maternal mortality crisis in America and affirming maternal health justice for all. In May 2019, she first introduced the MOMMIES Act, to extend post-partum Medicaid coverage for pregnant people and expand coverage to include culturally competent and community based doula care. In February 2021, she re-introduced the Justice for Incarcerated Moms Act, legislation to improve maternal health care and support for pregnant individuals who are incarcerated. The legislation was initially filed in March 2020.
Last month, during Black Maternal Health Week, Rep. Pressley introduced the COVID-19 Safe Birthing Act, bold legislation to provide critical protections and access to care for pregnant people during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an op-ed published in The Root last month, Rep. Pressley and Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan discussed the growing Black maternal health crisis and laid out a number of bold solutions to confront the crisis head-on.
In November, at a briefing held by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), Congresswoman Pressley delivered testimony on the growing racial disparities in maternal health and the urgent need to combat the Black maternal mortality crisis. Her full testimony at the briefing is available here.
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