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Kaine & Booker Introduce Bill to Address America’s Maternal Health Crisis

Bill includes Kaine’s legislation to increase maternal vaccination rates

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and other colleagues in reintroducing the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, historic legislation to address America’s maternal health crisis and save moms’ lives. The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act includes the Maternal Vaccinations Act, legislation led by Kaine to increase maternal vaccination rates for common illnesses like influenza, HPV, and pneumonia; address vaccination rate disparities; and better support new mothers’ health.

“It’s unacceptable that the U.S. maternal mortality rate has risen, even though more than 80 percent of these deaths are preventable,” said Kaine. “We can’t ignore this maternal health crisis, and we must take action to address racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality. This comprehensive legislation is critical to addressing the racial inequities in our health care system, increasing maternal vaccination rates, and helping ensure all women have access to high-quality care during and after their pregnancy.”

The U.S. maternal mortality rate is the highest it has been in decades. The crisis has disproportionately impacted Black women and people of color. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2021, the maternal mortality rate for Black women was more than 2.6 times higher than the maternal mortality rate for white women. Among maternal populations, white adults have higher vaccination rates than Black, Hispanic, and Native American adults.

Kaine’s Maternal Vaccinations Act would increase maternal vaccination rates, particularly in communities with historically low rates of vaccination. The bill would engage underserved communities to develop and assess maternal vaccination campaigns; provide evidence-based, culturally-informed resources to providers; and build partnerships with community-based organizations, health centers, and maternal health providers.

The Momnibus includes thirteen bills that:

  • Make critical investments in housing, transportation, nutrition, and other social determinants of health that influence maternal health outcomes.
  • Extend Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) eligibility in the postpartum and breastfeeding periods.
  • Provide funding to community-based organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes and promote equity.     
  • Increase funding for programs to improve maternal health care for veterans.
  • Grow and diversify the perinatal workforce to ensure that every mom in America receives maternal health care and support from people they 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.
  • Support moms with maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders.
  • Improve maternal health care and support for incarcerated moms.
  • Invest in digital tools to improve maternal health outcomes in underserved areas.
  • Promote innovative payment models to incentivize high-quality maternity care and non-clinical support during and after pregnancy.
  • Invest in federal programs to address maternal and infant health risks during 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 of moms and babies (Senator Kaine’s bill).

Kaine has strongly supported legislative efforts to expand access to maternal health care and address health disparities. Earlier this year, he introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to reduce maternal and infant mortality by strengthening support for women during and after pregnancy, expanding maternal health research and data collection, and ensuring women are better matched with birthing facilities that meet their specific needs.

In addition to Kaine and Booker, the bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Peter Welch (D-VT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), John Fetterman (D-PA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV). U.S. Representatives Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) and Alma Adams (D-NC-12) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

A list of more than 200 organizations that have endorsed the Momnibus is available here.

Full text of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act is available here. A summary of the bill is available here.