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Kaine Joins Harris On Bill To Address Black Women Dying At Higher Rates In Childbirth

In Virginia, Black women die in childbirth at a rate of 36.6 percent, three times the rate of white women

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined Senator Kamala D. Harris on the Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (CARE) Act, a bill to reduce the racial disparities in maternal mortality and morbidity. The United States is one of only thirteen countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality is now worse than it was 25 years ago. For Black women, the risk of death from pregnancy-related causes is three to four times higher than for white women, and Black women are twice as likely to suffer from life-threatening pregnancy complications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2016 Black women in Virginia died as a result of childbirth at a rate of 36.6 percent in every 100,000 birth, three times the rate of white women at 11 percent.

“There is no reason why in 2018 Black women should have to fear for their lives when we have the tools to reduce disparities in health care and make childbirth safer,” Kaine said. “I am proud to join Senator Harris’ bill so that we can ensure everyone has equal access to health care and close this inexplicable gap.”  

“Women of color continue to face disproportionate rates of maternal mortality and morbidity in this country,” said Jennifer Jacoby Altscher, Federal Policy Counsel, Center for Reproductive Rights. “This bill aims to address these racial disparities head-on through the creation of programs that have proven to lead to better health for women of color.” 

Estimates indicate that the United States could nearly halve the maternal mortality rate with better and more equal care. Widespread racial bias has led to unequal treatment of Black women in the health care system.

The Maternal CARE Act:

  • Creates two new grant programs focused on reducing racial health disparities in maternal health: 
    • Implicit Bias Training Grants: Addresses implicit bias—bias in judgement or behavior resulting from implicit attitudes and stereotypes—by establishing competitive grants directed to medical schools, nursing schools, and other health professionals training programs to support implicit bias training. Priority is given for training in obstetrics and gynecology.
    • Pregnancy Medical Home Demonstration Project: Establishes a demonstration project to assist up to 10 states with implementing and sustaining pregnancy medical home (PMH) programs to incentivize maternal health care providers to deliver integrated health care services to pregnant women and new mothers and reduce adverse maternal health outcomes, maternal deaths, and racial health disparities in maternal mortality and morbidity. 
  • Directs the National Academy of Medicine to study and make recommendations for incorporating bias recognition in clinical skills testing for U.S. medical schools. 

The Maternal CARE Act has received support from the following organizations: American Academy of Nursing, American College of Nurse-Midwives, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Black Women Birthing Justice, Black Women’s Health Imperative, Center for Reproductive Rights, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, March of Dimes, National Birth Equity Collaborative, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Women’s Law Center, Planned Parenthood, SisterSong National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Full text of the bill is available here.