11.11.21

SCHUMER, CLARKE, OLORI SISTERHOOD: PREGNANT BLACK MOMS 3X MORE LIKELY TO DIE & OVER TWICE AS LIKELY TO HAVE COMPLICATED BIRTHS; SCHUMER, CLARKE & OLORI SISTERHOOD PUSH PASSAGE OF MOMNIBUS IN BUILD BACK BETTER ACT TO COMBAT NY’S MATERNAL HEALTH CRISIS, TO MAKE NY MOMS & FAMILIES SAFER

Schumer Pushes Two-Part Plan: 1) Pass The Black Maternal Health ‘Momnibus’ Act & 2) Expand Medicaid for Mothers, Including Yearlong Postpartum Coverage and Doula & Midwife Services 

In 2020, NY Exceeded U.S. Maternal Morbidity & Mortality Rates; Momnibus Will Work To Combat Root Causes Of Maternal Health Crisis

Schumer: New York’s Black Moms Deserve Top Treatment – It’s Time To Deliver It To Them 

Standing at Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, the Olori Sisterhood and many of NYC’s leading black women in healthcare pushed for the passage of the Black Maternal Health ‘Momnibus’ Act in Build Back Better. Schumer said that the Momnibus will address the national maternal mortality crisis and eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health across New York and the country. Schumer said that the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act builds on existing maternal health legislation to comprehensively address the root causes of the maternal health crisis by making critical investments in addressing social, non-health related issues that can lead to maternal deaths, funding community-based organizations doing patient-level work to reduce the risks of maternal mortality, training programs for hospital staff on how to avoid maternal deaths, growing and diversifying the perinatal workforce, and improvements in data collection processes. Schumer also explained his push to require states to provide one year of Medicaid and CHIP coverage to support pregnant women and new mothers, and give states the option to expand benefits to include doulas and midwives.

Schumer said that in 2018, the overall rate of potentially life-threatening complications during or after childbirth (known as severe maternal morbidity) was 2.7% in New York, meaning approximately 6,000 New York women experienced these complications. Moreover, Black women were 2.3 times more likely to experience such complications. In 2020, New York exceeded the national average for maternal morbidity and maternal mortality.

“The bottom line is that it is absolutely unacceptable that Black women in New York – and across the country – are at an increased risk of complications, injury and death due to childbirth. It’s troublesome enough that the U.S. is falling behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to maternal health outcomes, but right here in New York, it’s far worse than national statistics indicate,” said Senator Schumer. “This maternal health crisis is only further exasperated for expectant woman of color in New York, which is why I’m saying enough is enough – it is time to invest in our moms, pass life-saving legislation to vastly improve national maternal health outcomes, support local maternal health organizations, and eliminate the unconscionable racial and ethnic disparities in outcomes that hurt minority women and families.”

Schumer said that he will fight to keep all the investments from Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 currently in Build Back Better (BBB). This 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 to comprehensively address the root causes of the maternal health crisis by making critical investments in addressing social, non-health related issues that can lead to maternal deaths, funding community-based organizations doing patient-level work to reduce the risks of maternal mortality, training programs for hospital staff on how to avoid maternal deaths, growing and diversifying the perinatal workforce, and improvements in data collection processes. The legislation also aims to address the impacts of the COVID pandemic and climate change on maternal and infant health.

Schumer also announced his plan to add major new maternal Medicaid benefits included in BBB. First, the bill requires states to provide one-year of postpartum Medicaid and CHIP coverage for pregnant women and new mothers. Schumer passed a temporary, emergency-relief version of this policy in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) he led to passage in the Senate, and now proposes building upon it. The Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has proven that offering pregnant and postpartum women Medicaid coverage reduces racial disparities in health care access and health outcomes for both mothers and children, which is why Schumer is pushing to permanently extend postpartum Medicaid coverage to up to a year. Schumer is also fighting for the bill to include a state option that would allow for Medicaid coverage for doulas and midwives, who have proven to reduce the risk of maternal deaths and complicated pregnancies, particularly in woman experiencing high-risk pregnancies.  

"As Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls and the Racial Equity Working Group, as well as through my personal experience, I know first-hand the importance of women's health. The MOMNIBUS Act is the legislation we've been waiting too long for. It simply must be included in the Build Back Better Act when it passes the House. The only other option is failure to support women. This bill will deliberately address disparities in maternal health care faced by pregnant women from racial and ethnic minority groups and has support from over 240 organizations including AHIP, APA, Anthem, and HIMSS. The MOMNIBUS Act will improve maternal health by targeting the needs among racial and ethnic minorities, vulnerable populations, and veterans. It also addresses adverse maternal health outcomes due to climate change and COVID-19, and improves maternal vaccination rates. Simply put, the MOMNIBUS will deliberately address the diverse needs of women, especially Black and Hispanic women who are more likely to live in poor health and die younger. And these disparities are not inevitable. They are not intractable. There are ways to reduce and even eliminate these disparities. And that is by passage of the MOMNIBUS," said Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke.

“We’re thrilled to stand with Senator Schumer to advocate for the passage of the critical MOMNIBUS bill - the largest maternal health equity investment in American history. This historic legislation will help eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes and, more important, save lives. It’s so imperative that these provisions are included in the final Build Back Better Act. We’re thankful for Senator Schumer’s unwavering leadership on this and other issues affecting communities of color. We need to push this across the finish line,” said Juanita Scarlett and the Olori Sisterhood. 

“We must no longer accept that Black women should face daunting and life-threatening odds to bring children into the world. This unconscionable disparity must be eliminated. It is for this reason that we support Senator Schumer in his efforts to include the many critical investments that were found in the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 in the Build Back Better package, which would seek to address many of the root causes of the maternal health crisis by making investments in not only health care, but in community-based strategies that have proven to be effective. Critical realignment of Medicaid and other insurance payment for doulas, midwives, and extended postpartum services would also be included. Senator Schumer’s work will save lives and strengthen families in Brooklyn,” said LaRay Brown, CEO of One Brooklyn Health.

“One Brooklyn Health is committed to transforming how health care is delivered in Central Brooklyn. We experience firsthand the struggles of Black mothers. These struggles often lead to low-birth-weight infants, prematurity, and death at a disproportionally high rate. One Brooklyn Health stands with Senate Majority Leader Schumer's fight to pass the Maternal Health Momnibus Act. The strategies outlined by Senator Schumer will fight to end longstanding racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health,” said Dr. Sandra R Scott, Executive Director, Brookdale Hospital and Medical Center.

“We are deeply appreciative to Senator Schumer for his recognition of and attention to the mental health equity of all pregnant people – including those across all racial and economic strata who are impacted by schizophrenia, autism or the medical condition of substance use disorder. The recent opiate crisis we have witnessed across our nation highlights the fact that no family is spared. In addition, the unique role of doulas and midwives, which has been undervalued for too long, is finally getting the deserved attention via the Momnibus Act. I would also like to thank the Senator for the wonderful support he has given to NYC H+H over the years. In particular over the past year his partnership has been critical,” said Machelle H. Allen, MD, SVP, Chief Medical Officer, New York City H+H.

“While there are problems that we may not be able to solve, I know that we, the people can create an environment with systems in place that can truly improve birthing outcomes for black and brown women and ultimately all women in NY. I am grateful that Senator Schumer is championing the Momnibus Bill that offers support birthing people in so many keys ways,” said Tonya Lewis Lee, Esq., Maternal Health Advocate and Board Member, March of Dimes.

“Psi Lambda Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and The Brooklyn Chapter of The Links, Incorporated stand in full support of the Momnibus Bill. Advocating for Black Maternal Health is vital to the future of our families. We stand ready to work with elected officials and service organizations to increase research and access to maternity care to lessen the gravity of maternal outcomes,” said Melinda Alexis-Hayes, Psi Lambda Omega, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Connection Chair and Legislative Co-Chair of the Brooklyn Chapter, The Links, Inc.

“Brooklyn Perinatal Network Inc. and the Brooklyn Coalition for Health Equity for Women and Families, which BPN convenes, support the Momnibus bill. When passed and implemented we expect to see the desired progress needed supporting the journey for bringing health care equity for Black and Brown women, who should not die nor experience the severe morbidity they currently do because they choose childbirth. NYC reports show that for every 1 maternal-related death, there is about 100 near misses. BPN has spent the 35 years of its life leading collective community-based efforts including collaborating with clinical and social health service providers, informing policymakers and bringing to light the need to address the social influences that drive the disparities. We often identify creative and innovative program approaches that when invested can effectively address maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. This bill must be considered in the framework of Reproductive Justice, to help ensure safe motherhood passages. We strongly encourage that all policymakers stand behind this bill,” said Ngozi Moses, Executive Director, Brooklyn Perinatal Network Inc.

“When our families thrive, our communities thrive. And when our communities thrive, our nation thrives. We must prioritize healthy and safe pregnancies for all families and continue to work to address the racial and ethnic disparities that have so deeply contributed to the maternal mortality crisis in this country. Nurse-Family Partnership urges Congress to include the Momnibus provisions and postpartum Medicaid expansion in the Build Back Better Act and to pass this landmark legislation as soon as possible,” said Magalie Joseph, Nurse Supervisor of SCO Family of Services Nurse-Family Partnership Program.

“Black Women’s Health Imperative urges Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act, which includes all of the eligible provisions of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021. This legislation moves the country closer to comprehensively addressing the maternal health crisis in America, particularly for Black women, who disproportionately die from pregnancy complications. It’s time for Congress to pass this bill, so that maternal health equity is realized for every birthing person in this country,” said Tammy Boyd JD, MPH, Chief Policy Officer & Counsel, Black Women’s Health Imperative.”

Schumer was joined by U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke, Assemblywomen Latrice Walker and Stefani Zinerman, members of the Olori Sisterhood including Juanita Scarlett, Hasoni Pratts, Lupe Todd Medina, Tiffany Raspberry, Joy Williams, and Tyquana Rivers Parsons, LaRay Brown (President & CEO, One Brooklyn Health System), Dr. Sandra Scott (Executive Director, Brookdale Hospital), Dr. Machelle Allen (Chief Medical Officer, NYC H+H), Dr. Rachel Villanueva (President of the National Medical Association), Tammy Boyd (Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, Black Women’s Health Imperative), Melinda Alexis (Eastern Regional Director, Jack & Jill of America and Connections Chair, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority), Tonya Lewis Lee, Esq. (Maternal Health Advocate and Board Member, March of Dimes), and Ngozi Moses (Executive Director, Brooklyn Perinatal Network Inc.).

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