Congress this year has a historic opportunity to pass legislation that will help mothers and children and address health inequalities in America. With the House passage of the Build Back Better Act complete, all eyes are on the Senate. Our leaders in Congress and the White House have an opportunity to act on behalf of America’s families through the passage of maternal and child health regulations in the Build Back Better Act and other critical maternal health legislation.
Maternal mortality in the United States is the highest rate in the developed world. The time to act is now. Black mothers die three times as much as their white counterparts.
The COVID-19 pandemic has directly affected children and young people, in a completely unequal way. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children’s Hospital Association, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists have “sounded the alarm”That our nation’s children and young people are experiencing a mental health crisis.
That American rescue plan included policy changes to support children, young people and families, such as an extended child tax deduction, a Medicaid government scheme to extend postpartum coverage to one year after termination of pregnancy, and investment in a number of programs to address social health factors. While these were positive changes, the federal government must take further steps to rebuild the pandemic and put the next generation on a stable footing.
We recommend that Congress adopt the following policies now.
We urge that the rules on maternal and child health be adopted in Parliament Build Back Better Act. These are critical policiesas poverty is the single biggest driver of health according to World Health Organization. The bill contains i.a. 12-month continuous coverage for eligible children, pregnant women and postpartum women under Medicaid and CHIP – this would also extend an extended version of Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit. ONEaccess to health insurance coverage results in improvements in health, education and socioeconomic status. The bill also includes -one a wealth of policies to strengthen nutrition, improve access to childcare and pre-k and invest in mental health, health care workers, paid family leave and other programs that address social drivers.
We also support the adoption of Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 sponsored by Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerPoll: Harris, Michelle Obama Lead for 2024 If Biden Does Not Show Up Five Reasons Biden GOP Should Be Grateful This Season Senators Call for Smithsonian Latino Women’s Museums to Be Built at National Mall MORE (DN.J.) and Rep. Lauren UnderwoodLauren Underwood Five victories Democrats can be thankful for. For Democrats, it should be about votes, not megaphones Black Caucus emerges as the winner in the spending package MORE (D-Ill.), And are pleased to see a historic investment in the Momnibus Act as part of the House-passed Build Back Better Act. This payout is an important first step in tackling the maternal mortality crisis and inequalities in poor health outcomes, which are acute for colored people, especially blacks. We must prioritize this historic investment in maternal health, specifically for blacks, Hispanics, and Indigenous peoples. But the work does not stop there – the full Momnibus law must be approved and passed into law.
In addition to these important provisions, we urge Congress to adopt the two-part Act on quality improvement of maternal health, sponsored by Sens. Raphael WarnockRaphael Warnock Overnight Defense & National Security – Austin Mandates Vaccine for Guardians Biden signs four bills aimed at helping veterans, Democrats anxious about Abram’s silence on Georgia Governor’s bid MORE (D-Ga.) And Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio blocks quick votes on a stalemate defense bill Wisconsinites need infrastructure built to keep Republicans fighting to save money for Trump’s border wall MORE (R-Fla.) And Reps. Robin KellyRobin Lynne KellyMore than 100 Democrats sign bill to ensure access to contraception CBC chair: Expenditure bill will include funds for HBCUs, housing, childcare Legislators seek answers to Armed Services’ plans to tackle weapons tracking MORE (D-IL) and Larry BucshonLarry Dean BucshonPeanut Butter and Jelly debut before turkey pardon from the White House Our military should not be held hostage to ‘water policy’ Legislators push for more funds to treat chronic kidney disease MORE (Crust.). This bill will fund efforts to improve maternal health care across the board through quality improvement, provider training and better data collection. It will also help modernize maternity care in rural areas at a time when rural hospitals are facing a record number of hospital closures and acute shortage of doctors.
We can – and we must – do better, and the adoption of these important bills would result in dramatic positive changes. We urge Congress to do the right thing to ensure a more prosperous future for children and families and our nation.
R. Lawrence Moss, MD, FACS, FAAP, is the President and CEO of Nemours children’s health, one of the largest integrated child health systems in the United States. Stacey D. Stewart is the President and CEO of the March of Dimes.