Davis Introduces Home Visiting Legislation to Combat the Maternal Mortality Crisis

Danny Davis

Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny K. Davis (D-IL) introduced H.R. 4768, the Home Visiting to Reduce Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Act, legislation that would increase funding for home visiting programs that serve pregnant women, new mothers, and their children with the aim of lowering maternal mortality and morbidity rates in the United States.

“Maternal mortality devastates families and communities, exacting a particularly high price from women of color” said Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Davis. “Black women in the U.S. experience pregnancy-related death more than any other racial or ethnic group regardless of income or education. Black, Native American, and Alaska Native women are about three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, and these disparities have increased over time. We know that home visiting is a proven tool to help improve health whether one lives in rural, urban, or suburban communities. The relationships built during home visits create important support networks and connect families to services to keep them safe and healthy. This bill provides an important opportunity to act to reduce rising rates of maternal mortality and life-threatening pregnancy complications, particularly in states, tribes, and territories with a high level of identified need for services. I am pleased to work with the Chairman to take this first step toward addressing the urgent health crisis of maternal mortality.”

The Home Visiting to Reduce Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Act would double the federal government’s investment in the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program (MIECHV) by 2022, making a proven tool to fight maternal mortality and morbidity available to more communities across the United States. Under current law, federally-funded home visiting services reach only about 150,000 of the 18 million families that could benefit from home visiting.

“The United States should not be one of the most dangerous places in the industrialized world to give birth,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA), an original co-sponsor of the legislation. “Evidence-based home visiting programs help give women the tools they need to take the necessary steps to protect their health during pregnancy and after childbirth. Expanding funding for MIECHV will give more women access to supports that could be the difference between life and death. I’ve seen the benefits these kinds of programs have in Massachusetts, and I know that demand far outpaces the availability of home visiting services in my district and across the country. I thank Congressman Davis for his leadership in addressing America’s maternal mortality crisis, and I am proud to support this important legislation.”

The rate of deaths per 100,000 births in the United States has grown by 1.7 percent since 1987, and three out of five of all pregnancy-related deaths in the United States are preventable. A national impact evaluation of the MIECHV program demonstrated that home visiting led to improvements in women’s general health, increases in health insurance coverage, and reductions in maternal depressive symptoms. Specifically, the Home Visiting to Reduce Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Act requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide additional funding to states, tribes, and U.S. Territories for three purposes:

To address rising rates of maternal mortality and life-threatening pregnancy complications, particularly in states with a high level of identified need for services;

To fund unmet need for home visiting services identified in state assessments required under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018; and To provide increased allocations to states and U.S. territories based on the most recent data on the proportion of children under age five living in poverty.

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