Durbin, Kelly Introduce Care For Moms Act

The CARE for Moms Act is a comprehensive solution to the crisis of mortality and morbidity among American mothers, particularly Black mothers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL-02) today introduced the CARE for Moms Act as maternal mortality and morbidity continues to rise across the United States, disproportionately impacting Black women.  The CARE for Moms Act builds upon key provisions from Durbin and Kelly’s MOMMA Act, parts of which were passed in bipartisan initiatives including the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act, the Helping MOMS Act, and the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act.

“In the U.S., Black women are three times more likely to die as a result of their pregnancy than White women.  It is unacceptable that in this country we are losing mothers and their babies to deaths that could have been prevented with the right interventions and health care,” said Durbin.  “We must act to address this national tragedy.  I’m joining Rep. Kelly to introduce the CARE for Moms Act to provide more comprehensive and culturally competent maternal and postpartum health care for mothers, especially women of color, and their babies.”

"I'm introducing the CARE For Moms Act because moms deserve better, Black moms deserve better,” said Kelly. “When we take care of moms and prioritize prenatal and postpartum care, we can help entire families flourish. The reality is that too many moms, and particularly Black moms, are losing their lives. That’s why I’m pushing for change, supporting providers, and providing resources like mobile units and doulas. My goal is clear: to ensure that every mother has access to the care, empowerment, and resources necessary to be the best moms they can be.”

The CARE for Moms Act supports the maternal health workforce, promotes access to prenatal and postpartum care, and provides the resources that moms and babies need to thrive.  The legislation includes provisions to:

  • Establish a State-Based Perinatal Quality Collaborative Grant Program;
  • Establish Regional Centers of Excellence to tackle implicit bias and promote cultural competence among health professionals;
  • Support federal efforts to grow and diversify the doula workforce;
  • Extend Medicaid coverage for postpartum mothers in all 50 states;
  • Establish grants for Rural Obstetric Mobile Units;
  • Require 90-day prior notification to HHS for hospital obstetric unit closure;
  • Extending Medicaid and CHIP to Oral Health Coverage to pregnant and postpartum women;
  • Extend WIC benefits for postpartum and breastfeeding women for two years; and
  • Require HHS to produce a report on federal funding allocation for maternal health needs.

The United States is one of only 13 countries in the world where the maternal mortality rate is worse now that it was 25 years ago and is the only industrialized country with a rising maternal mortality rate.  The shocking statistics cut across geography, education level, income, and socio-economic status.  Further, the United States ranks 32nd out of the 35 wealthiest nations when it comes to infant mortality—with 23,000 babies born in the United States dying annually.

“In the U.S. more than 80% of pregnancy related deaths are preventable, but our country continues to experience high maternal mortality rates compared to other high-income countries. According to March of Dimes’ new set of reports ‘Where You Live Matters: Maternity Care Deserts and the Crisis of Access and Equity’ more than 5.6 million women live in counties with no or limited access to maternity care services. This is why March of Dimes strongly supports theCommunity Access, Resources, and Empowerment (CARE) for Moms Act. This legislation would require all states to extend Medicaid postpartum coverage to one year and cover the oral health needs of pregnant moms. In addition, this bill would enhance and expand support for Perinatal Quality Collaboratives (PQCs), incentivize doula support services, provide grants for rural obstetric mobile health units, and mandate notification of hospital obstetric care unit closures. We thank the sponsors Rep. Robin Kelly and Senator Richard Durbin for their leadership on addressing our nation's maternal mortality crisis so that every mom and baby can have a healthy start,” said Stacey Y. Brayboy, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs, March of Dimes.

“Every mom deserves the respectful, responsive, nurturing and equitable continuum of care she needs to deliver a healthy beginning and healthy future for herself and the baby she loves.  But imagine being pregnant and living so far from the nearest OB clinic that you can’t access routine prenatal care and screenings. Or finding out that the only hospital that offered maternity care within 100 miles of you just stopped doing deliveries, or shut down completely. Or suffering a serious postpartum complication 16 weeks after giving birth and being unable to receive lifesaving care — because the state you live in has refused to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months. Or being unable to afford or even locate a doula to provide the vital support you need. That’s the reality for far too many moms in our nation–and it’s a reality that results in far too many moms and their babies dying or suffering lifelong health consequences from preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth. That’s unacceptable and that’s why the WTEP and I are proud to support the CARE for Moms Act, so that every mom can expect the healthy pregnancy, the safe delivery, and the healthy future she and her baby deserve. We’re grateful for the passionate leadership and tireless efforts and commitment from Senator Durbin and Representative Kelly on behalf of all our moms,” said Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

“The Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) is proud to endorse the CARE for Moms Act and urges Congress to pass this critical legislation this year,” said AMCHP CEO Terrance E. Moore. “The CARE for Moms Act takes a comprehensive approach to improving maternal health and eliminating racial inequities in maternal health outcomes in the United States by strengthening health care coverage for pregnant and postpartum people, improving access to quality clinical care, growing the maternal and child health (MCH) workforce, and addressing gaps for rural MCH populations. State maternal mortality review committees across the country have identified Medicaid extension in the postpartum period as a foundational policy foraddressing out nation's maternal mortality crisis, and the CARE for Moms Actsets the gold standard for extending Medicaid coverage to 12 months postpartum. We're grateful to Rep. Robin Kelly and Sen. Durbin for their staunch leadership in maternal health policy and look forward to our continued partnership.”