05.31.19

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Helps Reintroduce Legislation Addressing Maternal Mortality Crisis Among Black Women

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin helped reintroduce the Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (Maternal CARE) Act, legislation led by Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) to address persistent biases and shortcomings in our nation’s medical system that have contributed to the ongoing crisis in Black maternal mortality.

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 dying from pregnancy-related causes is three to four times higher than that of white women. Further, Black women are twice as likely to suffer from life-threatening pregnancy complications.

“Maternal and infant mortality rates are tragically high in Wisconsin, and they are even higher in the Black community. We need to do more to make sure women and families have access to quality, affordable health care,” said Senator Baldwin. “We know that healthier pregnancies lead to healthier babies. That’s why I’m working with Senator Harris to provide more resources to expecting moms and address the challenges in our maternal health system so mothers and pregnant women can get the care they need.”

“Black mothers across the country are facing a health crisis that is driven in part by implicit bias in our health care system. We must take action to address this issue, and we must do it with the sense of urgency it deserves,” said Senator Harris. “My Maternal CARE Act will establish implicit bias training throughout the medical profession and help ensure that women—especially Black women—have access to comprehensive, culturally competent care.”

The Maternal CARE Act:

  • Creates a new $25 million program to address racial bias in maternal health care. The new grant program will be directed to medical schools, nursing schools, and other health professional training programs to support evidence-based implicit training that will improve care for Black women by reducing bias in judgment or behavior.
  • Allocates $125 million to identify high-risk pregnancies, and provide mothers with the culturally competent care and resources they need. The new grant program will help states develop and carry out pregnancy medical home programs. These programs improve care by incentivizing 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.
  • Helps medical schools incorporate bias recognition in clinical skills testing by directing the National Academy of Medicine to study and make recommendations.

Supporters of the legislation include the American College of Nurse-Midwives, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Black Women Birthing Justice, Black Women’s Health Imperative, Center for Reproductive Rights, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Commonsense Childbirth - National Perinatal Task Force, Every Mother Counts, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, March of Dimes, National Association to Advance Black Birth, National Birth Equity Collaborative, National Black Midwives Alliance, National Health Law Program, National Partnership for Women & Families, National WIC Association, National Women's Law Center, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, WomenHeart, and 1,000 Days.

In addition to Senators Baldwin and Harris, the Maternal CARE Act is cosponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ) Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

The full bill text is available here.