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Penn Nursing Is Proud to Support Historic Legislative Package to Address America’s Maternal Health Crisis

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) is proud to endorse the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, a historic legislative package unveiled today by Representatives Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and Alma Adams (NC-12), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus.

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 will build on existing maternal health legislation, like policies to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage, with 12 bills to comprehensively address every dimension of America’s maternal health crisis. The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act makes investments in social determinants of health, community-based organizations, the growth and diversification of the perinatal workforce, improvements in data collection, and support for moms and babies exposed to climate change-related risks. In addition to direct efforts to improve Black maternal health outcomes, the Momnibus focuses on high-risk populations, including veterans, incarcerated people, Native Americans, and other women and birthing people of color.

The United States has the highest pregnancy-related death 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 AAPI women, also suffer from disproportionate rates of adverse maternal health outcomes.

“As leaders in the preparation of nurses and midwives, we are pleased to support these comprehensive set of bills to address this long-standing health inequity among Black Women,” said Penn Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel. “We applaud Representatives Underwood, Adams, and Senator Corey Booker for their leadership in addressing this issue and we are prepared to work with them and others in the approval and implementation of this important legislation.

“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.”

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act is composed of 12 individual bills. The legislation will:

  • Make critical investments in social determinants of health that influence maternal health outcomes, like housing, transportation, and nutrition.
  • Provide funding to community-based organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes and promote equity.
  • Comprehensively study the unique maternal health risks facing pregnant veterans and support VA maternity care coordination.
  • Grow and diversify the perinatal workforce to ensure every mom in America receives maternity care and support from people they can trust.
  • 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.
  • Invest in programs to expand access to treatments and support for maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders.
  • Improve maternal health care and support for incarcerated moms.
  • Invest in digital tools like telehealth to improve maternal health outcomes in underserved areas.
  • Promote innovative payment models to incentivize high-quality maternity care and continuity of health insurance coverage from pregnancy through labor and delivery and up to 1 year postpartum.
  • Strengthen programs to improve maternal health during COVID-19 and future public health emergencies.
  • Invest in community-based initiatives to reduce levels of and exposure to climate change-related risks for moms and babies.
  • Promote maternal vaccinations to protect the health and safety of moms and babies.