Attorney General James Urges Congress to Pass Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act
AG James and Coalition Highlight Need to Advance
Health Equity for Black Mothers as Mother’s Day Nears
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today took action to help increase access to maternal care for Black women across New York and the United States and, subsequently, combat the disproportionately high Black maternal mortality rate across the nation. As part of a coalition of 21 attorneys general, Attorney General James, today, sent a letter to Congress strongly urging the passage of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, which would help address the social detriments of the Black maternal mortality crisis, including improving access to housing, transportation, and nutrition services.
“We must continue to fight for equitable access to health care for all women, especially for those most susceptible to the many underlying social detriments that affect our health,” said Attorney General James. “Black mothers face systemic inequality and discrimination, and lack access to so many of the basic health services we all need to survive. These glaring disparities are the root cause of far too many deaths every year, and it’s time for an immediate change to our health care system. We shouldn’t just care about the health of our mothers on Mother’s Day, but every day of the year.”
Black mothers die at a rate three to four times higher than white mothers. Similarly, Native American, Asian-American and Pacific Islander, and Hispanic women are all also more likely to face higher maternal mortality rates than white women and non-Hispanic women. These disparities are the result of factors like preexisting conditions, socioeconomic status, lack of health insurance, and implicit bias and discrimination in the health care system.
The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 addresses maternal mortality by ensuring women have access to equitable care at all stages of pregnancy. The legislative package is comprised of 12 bills that address the crisis through a multifaceted approach of increased grant funding, enhanced data collection, and improving community programs. The package will address the social determinants of health that contribute to the Black maternal mortality crisis by:
- Providing funding to community-based maternal health organizations and state programs;
- Diversifying the perinatal workforce;
- Supporting mothers and improving maternal health care for individuals with mental health conditions, substance abuse disorders, and those who are incarcerated;
- Enhancing postpartum care;
- Promoting maternal health innovation, such as telehealth, maternal vaccinations, and payment options from pregnancy through the postpartum period; and
- Increasing access to education services for mothers.
The legislation would also enable state attorneys general to better protect residents against race-based discrimination within the health care system. The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 is co-sponsored by members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus.
Joining Attorney General James in sending today’s letter to Congress are the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.