Joins Colleagues in Introducing Legislation to Address Black
Senator's Bill Invests in
Implicit Bias Training and Resources to Address the Black
Maternal Mortality Crisis
Special to The Truth
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown
(D-OH) has joined his colleagues in introducing the Maternal
Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (Maternal CARE) Act,
legislation to address persistent biases and shortcomings in
our nation's health care system that have contributed to the
ongoing crisis in Black maternal mortality.
The United States is one of
only 13 countries in the world where the rate of maternal
mortality is now worse than it was 25 years ago. The CDC
estimates that about 700 women die each year in the United
States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications.
The disparity in maternal mortality also continues to grow -
as the risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes is three
to four times higher for black women than that of white
women. Further, black women are twice as likely to suffer
from life-threatening pregnancy complications.
"Too many black mothers are
dying in Ohio and across the country, and it's past time to
correct the injustices that have contributed to this crisis.
This is one important step we can take toward ensuring black
mothers and babies are getting the care they need and
deserve," said Brown.
Maternal CARE Act would:
* Invest $25 million
in program to address racial bias in maternal health care.
The new grant program will be directed to medical schools,
nursing schools, and other health professional training
programs to support evidence-based implicit bias training
that will improve care for Black women by reducing bias in
judgment or behavior resulting from implicit attitudes or
* Allocate $125
million to identify high-risk pregnancies, and provide
mothers with the culturally competent care and resources
they need. The new grant program will help states develop
and carry out pregnancy medical home programs. These
programs improve care by incentivizing 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.
* Help medical schools
incorporate bias recognition in clinical skills testing by
directing the National Academy of Medicine to study and make
The legislation was led by
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and is cosponsored by Senators
Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker
(D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Duckworth
(D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Doug Jones
(D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey
(D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Debbie
Stabenow (D-MI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ron Wyden
(D-OR). Companion legislation has been introduced in the
House of Representatives by Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC).
Brown's legislation is
supported by a number of organizations, including: the
American College of Nurse-Midwives, American College of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Association of Maternal &
Child Health Programs, Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Black
Women Birthing Justice, Black Women's Health Imperative,
Center for Reproductive Rights, Children's Hospital of
Philadelphia, Commonsense Childbirth - National Perinatal
Task Force, Every Mother Counts, In Our Own Voice: National
Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, March of Dimes,
National Association to Advance Black Birth, National Birth
Equity Collaborative, National Black Midwives Alliance,
National Health Law Program, National Partnership for Women
& Families, National WIC Association, National Women's Law
Center, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Society
for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, WomenHeart, and 1,000 Days.
In March, Brown introduced
the Healthy Maternal and Obstetric Medicine (Healthy MOM)
Act, legislation to ensure that all women eligible for
coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance
marketplaces, as well as women eligible for other individual
or group health plan coverage, can access affordable health
coverage throughout their pregnancies. The bill would do
this by establishing a special enrollment period (SEP) for
expectant mothers. Right now, marriage, divorce, having a
baby, adoption and changing jobs are considered qualifying
life events that trigger a special enrollment period.
However, becoming pregnant is not considered a qualifying
event. The bill would also guarantee 12 months of continuous
Medicaid eligibility for postpartum women, thus removing key
barriers that often prevent mothers from getting the care
they need after birth.
Brown's Healthy MOM Act will
work to improve outcomes by expanding quality access to
care, which research demonstrates could help prevent
pregnancy related deaths.