How the Momnibus Can Address the Black Maternal Health Crisis
At the beginning of August, various Black maternal health stakeholders, including advocacy groups such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, March of Dimes, and the National Partnership for Women and Families; community-based organizations; and health care providers gathered in DC on Capitol Hill for the Black Maternal Health Caucus Stakeholder 2023 Summit. These groups were brought together by Representative Lauren Underwood and Representative Alma Adams, co-Chairs of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, to discuss the work being done by the Caucus. The members of the Caucus have been working hard to address the Black maternal health crisis with a multi-pronged approach: the Black Maternal Health Momnibus. The Momnibus is a package of 13 bills, each targeting a different facet of the issue, from social determinants of health to culturally congruent maternity care and support for maternal mental health. Stakeholders had the opportunity to share their own legislative priorities, many of which are addressed in the Momnibus, and others that will be considered for future versions of the bill package. These legislative priorities from stakeholders include:
- Improving access to midwifery care and building out midwifery education programs, including HBCU outreach to increase interest in midwifery careers.
- Increased funding for training new nurses.
- Increased funding for Titles V, VII, and VIII.
- Legislation that would address Medicaid unwinding.
- Policies that would better support birthing people with disabilities.
As part of the multi-pronged approach the Caucus is taking to address the Black maternal health crisis, it’s important to examine how other reproductive health care issues interact. With abortion care being difficult to access in many places in the country, maternal health care providers are facing extra strain. In fact, more than 1.7 million women of reproductive age live in counties with no access to abortion and no access to maternity care. So, people living in areas without access to abortion are often forced to carry a pregnancy for which they will struggle to find the maternity care needed for the pregnancy and birth.
All people, regardless of who they are, where they live, or their income, deserve access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care, including maternal health care. Congress must pass the Black Maternal Health Momnibus. Power to Decide is proud to support the 2023 Momnibus and looks forward to continuing to work with the caucus and the coalition in the future.