An overview of Maternal Justice related federal and state policy updates.
Black Maternal Health Caucus Momnibus Introduction:
On Tuesday, March 10, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, Congresswoman Alma Adams, Senator Kamala Harris, and members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus introduced a historic bipartisan legislative package that builds on existing legislation in Congress to comprehensively address America’s Black maternal health crisis. The Momnibus is composed of nine individual bills sponsored by members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus and Senator Kamala Harris. The bills in the packet are:
- Social Determinants for Moms Act
- Kira Johnson Act
- Protecting Moms Who Served Act
- Perinatal Workforce Act
- Data to Save Moms Act
- Moms MATTER Act
- Justice for Incarcerated Moms Act
- Tech to Save Moms Act
- IMPACT to Save Moms Act
To take action to urge your Member of Congress to support the Black Maternal Health Momnibus, click here!
Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) Hearing
On February 12, 2020. The Women's Health Protection Act had a hearing in the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the first step towards passing the bill. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, the convenor of the Act for Women Coalition and Campaign that MomsRising is proud to be a part of “This is the first hearing on proactive legislation to improve abortion access in the House in nearly thirty years, and we would not be here if not for your hard work and dedication to eradicating barriers to abortion access.”
MomsRising joined partners who packed the hearing room to uplift this piece of legislation. We, along with activists and partners across the country, submitted testimony in support of the bill, which would protect the right to access abortion care by creating a safeguard against bans and medically unnecessary restrictions that apply to no similar medical care.
Testimony in favor of the bill was given by Advocate Holly Alvarado, Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Dr. Yashica Robinson, Medical Director at Alabama Women's Center for Reproductive Alternatives.
We look forward to the next step of the Women’s Health Protection Act to progress this crucial bill onward!
To watch a recording of the hearing, click below.
Supreme Court Rally for June Medical Services v. Russo
Oral arguments at the Supreme Court in June Medical Services v. Russo was heard on March 4, 2020. This is a major abortion rights case challenging a clinic shutdown law in Louisana, June Medical Services v. Russo (formerly June Medical Services v. Gee). If the Supreme Court allows this law to take effect, it would decimate abortion access in Louisiana. All but one clinic in the state would be forced to close, leaving just one doctor to provide abortion care for nearly one million Louisiana residents who may need it. This could shape the future of abortion rights and access in the U.S.
In response to the case, The Center for Reproductive Rights organized a rally to show collective support for meaningful abortion access in Louisiana and beyond. To watch the video of the rally, click below.
Maternal Health and the Senate Finance Committee
MomsRising joined The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) along with other partners, to send a letter in response to the Senate Finance Committee's Request For Information on maternal health. This letter, led by ACOG, urges the Committee to pursue extending Medicaid coverage to 12 months postpartum. The letter highlights that while we support a full-scope, 12-month extension for all women, H.R. 4996 represents a bipartisan compromise that will support individual states in pursuing this policy.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid and Expanding Medicaid
MomsRIsing also joined ACOG and partners to sign onto a letter to Administrator Verma urging Centers for Medicare & Medicaid to approve pending 1115 waivers from IL and MO, which will extend Medicaid to postpartum women to 12 months after delivery. Approval of these waivers could help ensure postpartum women have access to critical care amid the national emergency caused by COVID-19.
Medi-Cal Doula Bill
MomsRising has signed onto support a bill for a doula pilot program for Medi-Cal in California, with the hopes of making doula coverage eventually a permanent statewide benefit. 5 organizations are leading on sponsoring the bill: Birthing Project USA, Black Women for Wellness Action Project, National Health Law Program, North State Doula Program, South Los Angeles/South Bay African American Infant & Maternal Mortality Community Action Team, and the Western Center on Law & Poverty.
Click here to read the bill text.
Maternal Mental Health Legislation
MomsRising sent letters of support to four maternal health bills that benefit California women with maternal mental health (MMH) conditions, such as prenatal and postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis. The bills are being supported by 2020 Mom. See below for more information:
- AB 2417: Expanding Maternal Mental Health Screening: Bereaved Mothers (Patterson) requires an extension of current laws for obstetric providers to screen for - and hospitals to provide education on - maternal mental health (MMH) conditions to include bereaved mothers who have suffered from miscarriage, stillbirth, or fatal fetal diagnosis.
- AB 2418: Perinatal Hospice / Patient Rights: Bereaved Mothers (Patterson) will ensure that bereaved mothers will be informed about their available options - including medical options, perinatal hospice, time allowed to be spent with the baby after delivery, medical testing, burial/cremation, religious ceremonies, pictures, and possible keepsakes after experiencing a loss. This bill will also require the CA State Department of Public Health to compile information about perinatal hospice services and make it available to hospitals and patients.
- AB 2360: Maternal and Child Mental Health: Telepsychiatry Pilot Project (Maienschein) requires the CA State Department of Health Care Services to contract with a third-party provider to administer a free Telepsychiatry consultation service to provide primary care physicians with information regarding the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders in children and pregnant and postpartum women. 3-5 counties will be selected to participate in a pilot program for this service.
- AB 3229: County Maternal Mental Health Services Reports (Wicks) requires California counties to submit an annual report on how they are using funding to address maternal mental health issues to the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, which will post the reports on its website each year.
NJ Lawmakers are seeking to mandate bias training for maternal-infant health care workers. Assemblywoman and lead sponsor Shanique Speight (D-Essex) of the bill are looking to introduce a second proposal that will require similar, evidence-based bias training for medical providers in other practice areas; racial disparities in outcomes are not limited to maternity care. To access the bill text, go here.
Victory in Virginia! MomsRising joined partners to sent letters of support directly to legislative offices for HB 980, the Reproductive Health Protection Act to successfully get this bill voted out of the VA state Senate. HB 980 removes several unconstitutional and medically unnecessary statutory barriers to access for patients seeking abortion care in Virginia. To access the bill text, click here.
On the postpartum Medicaid expansion front, MomsRising is excited to be part of a victory out of Washington state. Bill ESSB 6128, extends postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60-days to 12-months when federal funds become available. The final budget in the state also allocated funding to allow the Health Care Authority to begin the technological and internal work necessary to implement this expansion so that it can go into effect immediately upon the availability of funds.
To read about more of our wins in Washington State, check out our blog.