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Adams, Booker, Underwood Unveil the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act to Address America's Maternal Health Crisis

Feb 8, 2021
Press Release
The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act includes a series of 12 bills to save moms’ lives and end racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes

WASHINGTON— Today, Representatives Alma Adams (NC-12) and Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus unveiled the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, historic legislation to save moms’ lives, end racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes, and achieve maternal health justice for Black women and all women and birthing people of color.

Video of the press conference unveiling the Momnibus is available for download here.

The Momnibus builds on existing maternal health legislation and the Black Maternal Health Momnibus of 2020 with 12 bills to comprehensively address the drivers of the maternal health crisis. The Momnibus makes critical investments in addressing social determinants of health, funding community-based organizations, growing and diversifying the perinatal workforce, and improving data collection processes. The Momnibus also includes new legislation to address the impacts of COVID-19 and climate change on maternal and infant health. 

In the package, Rep. Adams is leading the Kira Johnson Act, which would provide funding to community-based organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes and promote equity. 

"As I've said since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the disproportionate rate of mortality and morbidity among Black women is a crisis within a crisis," said Congresswoman Adams, co-chair and co-founder of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. "Tens of thousands of pregnant people have contracted COVID-19, the vast majority being Black and Brown mothers. As the pandemic rages on, access to quality maternal care has decreased as the barriers to receiving care have increased. That’s why, in the 117th Congress, I’m reintroducing the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act and the Kira Johnson Act. I'll continue to work with Vice President Kamala Harris, Senator Cory Booker, and my Caucus co-Chair Representative Lauren Underwood to ensure all everyone has access to high quality maternity care, no matter where they live, how much they earn, or the color of their skin. The Momnibus provides a comprehensive set of policy solutions and a roadmap for addressing maternal health disparities. Black mamas can't afford to wait.”

"As maternal mortality rates continue to drop around the world, they are rising in the U.S., leaving behind devastated families and children who will grow up never knowing their moms. This crisis demands urgent attention and serious action to save the lives of Black mothers and all women of color and birthing people across the county," said Congresswoman Underwood, co-chair and co-founder of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. "I’m leading the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act with Representative Alma Adams, Senator Cory Booker, and other Members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus because no mother should go through pregnancy, labor and delivery, or the postpartum period without the respectful care and comprehensive support they need and deserve. Together, we can – and must – take the bold actions that will be required to save our moms, end disparities, and achieve true maternal health justice.”

“As the rest of the world works to improve maternal health outcomes, skyrocketing maternal mortality rates here in the United States are precipitating a public health crisis -- one that puts mothers of color especially at risk," said Senator Booker. “We simply cannot continue to accept this alarming status quo. This is why I am proud introduce the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act with Representatives Underwood and Adams that will save moms’ lives and improve health outcomes for all birthing people.” 

The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world and the only rate that is rising. The maternal mortality rate is significantly higher among Black women, who are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications. Other birthing people of color, including Hispanic, Native American, and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women, also suffer from disproportionately high rates of adverse maternal health outcomes.

A one-page summary of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, including a list of the 80 original cosponsors in the House of Representatives, can be found here, and additional information about the individual bills in the Momnibus can be found on the Black Maternal Health Caucus website

A list of the 191 organizations endorsing the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act can be found here.

Quotes in support of the Momnibus can be found here.

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act is composed of twelve individual bills sponsored by Black Maternal Health Caucus Members. The legislation will: 

  1. Make critical investments in social determinants of health that influence maternal health outcomes, like housing, transportation, and nutrition. 
  2. Provide funding to community-based organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes and promote equity. 
  3. Comprehensively study the unique maternal health risks facing pregnant and postpartum veterans and support VA maternity care coordination programs. 
  4. Grow and diversify the perinatal workforce to ensure that every mom in America receives culturally congruent maternity care and support. 
  5. Improve 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. 
  6. Support moms with maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders. 
  7. Improve maternal health care and support for incarcerated moms
  8. Invest in digital tools like telehealth to improve maternal health outcomes in underserved areas. 
  9. Promote innovative payment models to incentivize high-quality maternity care and non-clinical support during and after pregnancy. 
  10. Invest in federal programs to address the unique risks for and effects of COVID-19 during and after pregnancy and to advance respectful maternity care in future public health emergencies. 
  11. Invest in community-based initiatives to reduce levels of and exposure to climate change-related risks for moms and babies
  12. Promote maternal vaccinations to protect the health and safety of moms and babies. 

Adams co-founded the Black Maternal Health Caucus in 2019 with Rep. Lauren Underwood and co-led the introduction of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act in 2020. Over 2,000 people, including Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris and Rep. Underwood, participated in her Women’s Symposium on Black Maternal Health During COVID-19 (video).