A new bill has been introduced to Congress by Representative Robin Kelly, D-Illinois to help reverse America’s rising maternal mortality rate. Congresswoman Kelly presented the initiative in early May 2018 to help hundreds of women who die each year as a result of pregnancy.
The new initiative is called the Mothers and Offspring Maternal Mortality Awareness (MOMMA) Act.
“Hundreds of American mothers are dying. It’s time for Congress to do something about It,” says Congresswoman Robin Kelly.
In this article, you’ll find out about why the bill was created and how it will help save mothers who are pregnant or have recently given birth.
How Many Americans Die from Pregnancy and Childbirth, and Why?
The World Health Organization studies and documents a ratio called Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR). The MMR looks at how many maternal deaths occur per 100,000 live births during the pregnancy or within 42 days after.
While the global maternity mortality rate is on the decline, America’s is on the rise. Each year, an estimated 700 American women die from childbirth. That rate is more than double than it was 30 years ago, according to Felicia Lester, MD, the medical director of gynecology services at the University of California at San Francisco.
It’s difficult to know precisely why it is happening, but Dr. Lester says that we need to examine the health care system and that socioeconomic and racial factors may play a role.
Black women are twice as likely to experience complications as white women in the United States. Black women are also 3-4 times as likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth.
“The CDC reports the maternal mortality ratio in the U.S. for white women as 12.7 per 100,000; for black women, it’s 43.5 per 100,000. Can you believe that disparity? It’s unconscionable,” Dr. Lester said.
She added, “And it’s not just about the socioeconomic status or educational status or rural/urban dwelling status. It’s something else. Highly educated African American women of high socioeconomic status are still more likely to die in childbirth than a white woman, even one of lower socioeconomic status. We need to think about our society in general and determine why this might be.”
What is the new MOMMA Act Initiative?
The new House bill introduced by Congresswoman Kelly intends to change the mortality rate by offering better maternal and postpartum health care.
Here are five solutions that the MOMMA Act covers:
- Expands Care Access to the Full Postpartum Period (1 year) for Mothers. Right now, Medicaid pays for half of all births, but it only covers two months postpartum. Under the MOMMA Act, mothers will get a full year’s access to care after delivery.
- Standardizes Data Collection and empowers a designated federal agency to collect uniform data. Currently, there is no federal entity that collects data on official maternal mortality rates. The MOMMA Act will require the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to work with states to accurately collect data.
- Ensures the Sharing of Best Practices Between Practitioners and Hospital Systems. The goal is that both work together to create a safe environment for mothers.
- Establishes and Enforces National Emergency Obstetric Protocols. Currently, accredited hospitals focus primarily on infant care. The MOMMA Act will ensure that maternal and postpartum care is a priority too.
- Improves Access to Culturally-Competent Care. The MOMMA Act intends to break down structural racism and to train hospitals on the needs of all American mothers.
How Can You Get Involved?
The goal is for the bill to become law. Right now, creating awareness about the statistics and new bill will help gain support for MOMMA Act.
The sponsor of the bill, Congresswoman Kelly, has already presented the initiative to Congress. While Kelly represents the people of Illinois, it is possible to write a letter to your state’s Congress representative to persuade them to vote favorably on the bill.
If passed into law, the MOMMA Act would help to save countless lives of mothers across America.
“Starting or growing your family shouldn’t mean putting your life at risk,” said Congresswoman Kelly. “Every momma deserves the chance to be a momma – that’s why I’m working to pass the MOMMA Act.”