Rep. Lauren Underwood, a Democrat from Illinois, has attempted to pass a legislative package called the Momnibus Act, to address rising maternal mortality rates across the country. Although parts of the bill have already been signed into law, much of it is still under discussion.
But, speaking optimistically about the bill’s future on “Face the Nation” Sunday, Underwood said he sees “a path” to bipartisan agreement on the Momnibus Act and believes it could become law as late as 2023.
“The American people have rallied behind this as a priority, a shared value, and we have broad bipartisan support from Congress to address this issue,” Underwood told “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan. The congresswoman noted that “there are several bills in the package that are bipartisan at this point,” citing one to protect veteran mothers that would follow another maternity bill signed by President Joe Biden in 2021, to address maternal deaths among women who served. US military
Other parts of the Momnibus Act that have yet to pass both chambers of Congress include one to protect maternal mental health and support substance use disorders and another to “ensure that technology tools available on the market are available to mothers all over the country,” Underwood said Sunday.
The Black Maternal Health Caucus introduced the Momnibus Act in 2020 to “make important investments in the social determinants of health that affect maternal health outcomes, such as housing, transportation, and nutrition” and to “expand eligibility for WIC during the postpartum and breastfeeding periods.” In summary of the bill.
Underwood said the legislative package has “absolutely” Republican support, pointing to significant bipartisan membership in the caucus and lawmakers’ success in passing “80% of the bill” in the House during the last congressional session.
“So we have a path to sign this piece of legislation into law this year, and we’re working hard with our colleagues across the aisle in the House of the Senate to do that,” he said.
The maternal mortality rate in the United States is a Six-decade high the time Covid-19 is global, with federal health data revealing a disproportionate number of deaths among black, Hispanic, and indigenous women. The U.S. leads the industrialized world in maternal mortality and has seen an 89% increase since 2018 among mothers of all racial and ethnic groups, Underwood said on “Face the Nation.” He said the pandemic played a role in the spike, adding that “80% of these deaths are preventable.”
The congresswoman also emphasized that while significant disparities exist for women of color, American women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds are affected by this crisis.
“We certainly know that black mothers are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications, we know that Hispanic mothers have the largest year-over-year increase in the most recent CDC data, and we know that Native American mothers have significant as well as disparities,” Underwood said.
“But I want to be clear that this is an issue that touches every mother in this country and all of our families,” she continued. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a city or a rural community, it doesn’t matter if you live on the East Coast or the West Coast or the South. This is something that touches all of our lives and so we need to make sure that we’re passing these solutions that we have. solves the problems we face in the healthcare system.”