U.S. House passes bipartisan Helping MOMS Act introduced by Congresswoman Robin Kelly

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Robin Kelly

This week the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Helping MOMS Act, legislation aimed at reducing and ending America’s growing maternal mortality crisis.

“This is a big step toward reducing the tragedy of preventable maternal deaths by ensuring new moms can continue to seek necessary medical care,” said Congresswoman Kelly, author of the Helping MOMS Act. “I’m proud to have brought my colleagues from both sides of the aisle together to address this growing public health crisis. This is not a magic pill to solve America’s maternal mortality crisis, but this bill provides a solid, bipartisan, evidence-based approach to saving lives. We must continue working, inside and outside of government, to ensure starting a family doesn’t cost a woman her life.”

“I’m pleased the House approved our bipartisan Helping MOMS Act, which is going to ensure women can access care in the year following birth. We know that seven out of ten new moms will face a health complication during that time, so guaranteeing their ability to see a doctor and get treatment if needed is a monumental step in our fight to end this nation’s maternal mortality crisis,” said Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler.

The bill provides states with the option to extend Medicaid coverage through the entire postpartum period of one year, a proven strategy for reducing unnecessary maternal deaths. Currently, most states only provide Medicaid coverage for 60-days immediately following childbirth. In order to increase the coverage window, the state must apply and be approved for a waiver by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Many new moms experience one or more health complication within a year of giving birth. With more than half of new moms covered by Medicaid, the Helping MOMS Act could significantly improve these health outcomes.

“Every maternal death is heartbreaking, but every preventable death — or disability — should be considered unacceptable. Nearly 1/3 of complications that lead to maternal death occur after 6 weeks postpartum. When Medicaid coverage for maternity care comes with a use-by date, lapsing just two months after delivery, as it currently does in 14 states —our most vulnerable moms are left uncovered and at risk. Our moms deserve a continuum of care that keeps them covered throughout the first year of their baby’s life. The Helping Moms Act is a vital first step to making sure every mom gets the care she needs to deliver a healthy beginning and healthy future to herself and the baby she loves — no exceptions, no disparities, and definitely no use-by date,” added Heidi Murkoff, author of “What To Expect When You’re Expecting.”

In recent years, the U.S. has made headlines for its disturbing and growing rate of maternal mortality. It was more dangerous to have a baby in 2018 than it was in 1985. According to the CDC, 700-900 American moms lose their lives every year due to pregnancy or birth-related complications.

More than half of these tragic deaths are entirely preventable per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Nationally, Black women face an increased risk of dying from maternal complications. The latest CDC data from 2018 shows Black women are two and a half times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than their white counterparts.

In Illinois, nearly 100 Illinois moms die each year and Black mothers in Illinois die at up to six times the rate of white mothers, with nearly 75 percent of those deaths being prevent- able.

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