Durbin, Duckworth Announce $5.3 Million In Federal Funding To Support Maternal Health In Illinois

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today announced that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has been awarded a total of $5,339,317 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This significant funding will support IDPH in identifying, reviewing, and characterizing maternal deaths, developing new treatments for pregnancy and postpartum complications, and identifying prevention opportunities.

“Despite being one of the richest and most advanced nations, the United States is facing a dire crisis when it comes to maternal health, particularly for women and babies of color,” said Durbin. “Many of these deaths are preventable if met with the right interventions and health care. Today’s announced federal funding is a victory for maternal health care, but I won’t stop pushing for further investments into maternal and postpartum care.”

“Think about what the maternal mortality crisis means in human terms,” Duckworth said. “Think about how many daughters will grow up with their mothers by their sides, or how many little boys will get to have their moms teach them to tie their shoes if we confront this. This federal support for the Illinois Department of Public Health is an important push that could help address this crisis.”

Last year, Durbin and Duckworth reintroduced the Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness (MOMMA) Act in response to America’s rising maternal and infant mortality rate, especially for moms and babies of color who are significantly more likely to die during or shortly after pregnancy.

On average, maternal mortality claims the lives of about 700 American moms each year—an additional 70,000 women suffer near-fatal health complications—with more than 60 percent of these deaths being preventable.  Further, every year in the United States, more than 23,000 infants die, many due to factors that could have been prevented.  Women and babies of color are particularly at risk—with Black women being about three times more likely than white women to suffer pregnancy-related deaths, and Black babies being twice as likely as white babies to die in their first year of life. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the maternal health crisis and need to address these racially disparate outcomes. 

Maternal and infant mortality is especially important to Illinois families.  According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), on average, 73 new Illinois mothers die every year, with more than 70 percent of these deaths deemed preventable. While Illinois’ maternal mortality rate is slightly lower than the national average, the disparity of Black mothers dying is nearly double the national disparity.  According to the IDPH, Black mothers in Illinois die at 600 percent the rate of their white counterparts.

The MOMMA Act uses a six-pronged approach to address and reduce maternal deaths by:

  • Establishing national obstetric emergency protocols through a federal expert committee,
  • Ensuring dissemination of best shared practices and coordination amongst maternal mortality review committees,
  • Standardizing data collection and reporting,
  • Improving access to culturally competent care throughout the care continuum,
  • Providing guidance and options for states to adopt and pay for doula support services, and
  • Expanding Medicaid coverage to new mom’s entire post-partum period (1 year).