Sen. Tim Kaine highlights maternal and infant mortality along with racial inequities in maternal health

Virginia

CHANTILLY, Va. (WDVM) — Senator Tim Kaine held a press conference to further discuss his bipartisan bill to reduce maternal and infant mortality and promote the vaccination of pregnant women.

According to the CDC, in 2018 the maternal mortality rate for African American women is 2.5 times higher than the mortality rate for white women. The purpose of the mothers and newborns success act is to help reduce the racial inequities in infants and maternal.

Sen. Tim Kaine said, “What we’re trying to do is do better data collection and also be more innovative in funding best practices. The effect of all the maternal mortality bills starts to take us down that path so we can reduce the unacceptable disparity.”

Kaine said the maternal mortality rate for Latino women is not drastically different than African Americans, but it could be an undercounting problem due to some Latino women not coming forward because of immigration issues.

This legislation will help address these significant inequities by strengthening support for women during and after pregnancy, promoting maternal health research and data collection, and ensuring women are better matched with birthing facilities that meet their specific needs. 

According to Kaine, this legislation is more crucial than ever as the country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected communities of color.

The Mothers and Newborns Success Act would: 

  • Codify the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) State Maternal Health Innovation Program and the Supporting Maternal Health Innovation Program to assist states in implementing actions to address disparities in maternal health and improve maternal health outcomes.
  • Establish a pilot program through HRSA to better support women’s health in the postpartum period.
  • Establish a National Maternal Health Research Network at the NIH to support innovative research to reduce maternal mortality and promote maternal health.
  • Support HRSA’s Rural Maternity and Obstetric Management Strategies (RMOMS) Program to improve access to and continuity of obstetrics care in rural communities, including thorough use of telehealth.
  • Establish a public and provider awareness campaign through the CDC to promote awareness of maternal health warning signs and the importance of vaccinations for pregnant women and children.
  • Support CDC’s work to classify birthing facilities based on the level of risk-appropriate maternal and neonatal care to improve care delivery and health outcomes for expectant mothers and their infants.
  • Support CDC’s efforts to implement quality assurance processes to improve the validity of pregnancy checkbox data from death certificates to help provide more accurate data on maternal deaths.  
  • Support CDC’s data collection on maternal attitudes and experiences during the pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and postpartum periods as well as efforts to provide technical assistance to states to ensure representation of communities of color in key datasets.

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