Heart disease is the leading cause of death in pregnant and postpartum women. That’s why WomenHeart supports the Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness (MOMMA) Act, a bill introduced this week by Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL) and Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).
The bill recognizes heart disease, including “cardiovascular and coronary conditions” and “cardiomyopathy,” among the “predominant medical causes of maternal-related deaths and complications.” It also makes clear the disparities for African-American women who are “three to four times more likely to die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth compared to non-Hispanic White women.”
The bill addresses maternal mortality in several ways. It establishes a grant program to promote best practices for improving maternity care in a variety of areas, including severe hypertension in pregnancy, the maternal venous system, and support after a severe maternal morbidity event. The bill also expands Medicaid coverage from 60 days post-partum to one year. This is especially critical for low-income women who rely on Medicaid for health coverage and who may experience a heart event during or after their pregnancy and need ongoing care to treat their heart disease. The MOMMA Act addresses implicit bias and cultural competency for health care providers, highlighting that research shows a correlation between “the stress of racism and one’s birthing outcomes.” Finally, the bill includes provisions related to maternal mortality data collection and review, access to services, and more.
Rep. Robin Kelly is the recipient of this year’s Wenger Award for Excellence in Public Policy.