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Congresswoman Alma Adams

Representing the 12th District of North Carolina

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Congresswoman Adams Introduces Bill to Address Maternal Mortality Racial Disparities

Sep 5, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C.— Congresswoman Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (NC-12), along with original cosponsor Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), introduced the Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (CARE) Act, a bill to reduce the racial disparities in maternal mortality and morbidity. The maternal mortality rate in the United States has increased over the past 25 years, in comparison to many other nations. For African American women, maternal mortality eclipses white women at rates three to four times as high. A version of this bill was introduced by U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) last week.

“Our nation’s current health system is failing Black mothers and their children. The maternal mortality epidemic in the African American community has reached crisis levels and continues to deprive communities of mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, and leaders,” said Congresswoman Adams. “As long as mothers of color continue to suffer from disproportionate rates of mortality and morbidity compared to their white counterparts, the Maternal CARE Act will help save lives. Women of color continue to suffer from implicit bias, a lack of adequate health care services, and disparate access to culturally competent maternal health education. This bill will provide guidance for Black women in maternal health and work to ensure that all women have access to high quality care.”

“Maternal mortality is a women’s health issue. As with all health disparities, women of color, especially black women are most impacted. Our country is the only developed nation in the world where the rates of women dying during childbirth are rising. American women are five times more likely to die during childbirth than British women and we rank last amongst our global peers in maternal health and mortality,” said Rep. Clarke.

The Maternal CARE Act:

  • Creates two new grant programs focused on reducing racial health disparities in maternal health:
    • Implicit Bias Training Grants: Addresses implicit bias—bias in judgement or behavior resulting from implicit attitudes and stereotypes—by establishing competitive grants directed to medical schools, nursing schools, and other health professionals training programs to support implicit bias training. Priority is given for training in obstetrics and gynecology.
    • Pregnancy Medical Home Demonstration Project: Establishes a demonstration project to assist up to 10 states with implementing and sustaining pregnancy medical home (PMH) programs to incentivize 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.
  • Directs the National Academy of Medicine to study and make recommendations for incorporating bias recognition in clinical skills testing for U.S. medical schools.

Earlier this year, Rep. Adams and Sen. Harris introduced a resolution designating April 11-17, 2018 as Black Maternal Health Week to recognize the maternal mortality rate among Black women as a public health crisis.

“Black women are three to four times more likely to die or experience severe morbidity than their white counterparts. Hundreds of women are dying and it’s time for Congress to do something about it,” said Rep. Clarke. “I applaud the leadership of Senator Harris and Congresswoman Adams for introducing the bicameral, Maternal CARE Act, which will create new grant programs focused on reducing racial health disparities in maternal health.”

 “No politician should tout ‘pro-life’ if they are not actively engaged in efforts to ensure that all mothers and babies survive their pregnancy, regardless of race and background. Anything less would be nothing short of hypocrisy,” Rep Adams continued. “I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support the Maternal CARE Act and the fight to end this epidemic that is stealing the lives of women and their children.”

Full text of the bill is available here (PDF iconlink).

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