February 09, 2021

Kaine, Colleagues Unveil Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act to Address America's Maternal Health Crisis

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act includes a series of 12 bills to save moms’ lives and end racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Representative Lauren Underwood (IL-14), and Representative Alma Adams (NC-12) – along with members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus – to unveil the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, historic legislation to save moms’ lives, end racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes, and achieve maternal health justice for Black women and all women and birthing people of color. The Momnibus builds on existing maternal health legislation and the Black Maternal Health Momnibus of 2020 with 12 bills to comprehensively address the drivers of the maternal health crisis. The Momnibus makes critical investments in addressing social determinants of health, funding community-based organizations, growing and diversifying the perinatal workforce, and improving data collection processes.

Senator Kaine authored the Maternal Vaccination Act, which has been included in the Momnibus. His legislation would increase maternal vaccination rates, particularly in communities with historically low rates of vaccination, to better support new moms’ health. According to the CDC, white adults currently have higher vaccination coverage than Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American adults.

“The racial disparities seen in maternal health have gone unaddressed for far too long, and Congress must work to ensure more women of color receive the necessary support to close these disparities,” Kaine said. “This past year has only further reinforced the need to invest in initiatives that promote maternal immunizations and address the racial disparities in maternal vaccination rates. I’m pleased to join my colleagues in this vital legislation to make sure more women, particularly Black women, have the best chance possible at a healthy life.”

Specifically, the Maternal Vaccination Act would:

Provide funding for a national campaign to raise awareness about maternal vaccinations, and increase maternal vaccination rates, particularly for pregnant people from communities with historically low vaccination rates. This includes funding for:

Engaging with people in underserved communities to develop maternal vaccination campaigns and assess their effectiveness;

o Providing evidence-based, culturally congruent resources; and

o Building partnerships with community-based organizations, community health centers, maternity care providers, perinatal health workers, and other trusted local leaders.

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act is composed of eleven other individual bills sponsored by Black Maternal Health Caucus Members. The legislation will also:  

1. Make critical investments in social determinants of health that influence maternal health outcomes, like housing, transportation, and nutrition.  

2. Provide funding to community-based organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes and promote equity.  

3. Comprehensively study the unique maternal health risks facing pregnant and postpartum veterans and support VA maternity care coordination programs.  

4. Grow and diversify the perinatal workforce to ensure that every mom in America receives culturally congruent maternity care and support.  

5. 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.  

6.  Support moms with maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders.  

7. Improve maternal health care and support for incarcerated moms.  

8.  Invest in digital tools like telehealth to improve maternal health outcomes in underserved areas.  

9.  Promote innovative payment models to incentivize high-quality maternity care and continuity of insurance coverage from pregnancy through labor and delivery and up to 1 year postpartum.  

10. Invest in federal programs to address the unique risks for and effects of COVID-19 during and after pregnancy and to advance respectful maternity care in future public health emergencies.  

11. Invest in community-based initiatives to reduce levels of and exposure to climate change-related risks for moms and babies.  

Senator Kaine has long focused his efforts on addressing the Black maternal health crisis, including introducing his bipartisan Mothers and Newborns Success Act last year, legislation to help reduce the egregious racial inequities in maternal and infant mortality. Kaine has hosted several roundtables focused on the issue across Virginia over recent years in HamptonOakton, and Lynchburg, as well as cosponsored the Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (CARE) Act to create two new grant programs focused on reducing racial disparities in maternal health.  

Other Senate co-sponsors of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act include: Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Edward Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Tina Smith (D-MN).

A one-page summary of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, including a list of the 80 original cosponsors in the House of Representatives, can be found here, and additional information about the individual bills in the Momnibus can be found on the Black Maternal Health Caucus website.

A list of the 191 organizations endorsing the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act can be found here. The Maternal Vaccination Act is endorsed by more than 160 organizations, listed here.

# # #