Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced legislation that would attempt to improve maternal health outcomes by expanding coverage of pregnant people under Medicaid.

“We simply cannot continue to accept this alarming status quo – we must do something about it and this bill is an important first step,” Booker said in a release about the bill sent to Blavity. “By expanding Medicaid coverage for pregnant women, we can begin to stem the rising tide of maternal mortality and close the egregious racial gaps that exist in maternal and infant health outcomes.”

The Maximizing Outcomes for Moms through Medicaid Improvement and Enhancement of Services Act extends coverage from two months to a full year after childbirth increasing access to primary and women's health care providers. Giving greater care to women after the nearly 50 percent of birthday covered by Medicaid.

“We live in a nation that spends more than any other country on health care, yet we still have the highest rate of pregnancy-related deaths of any country in the developed world,” Senator Booker said. “And black women are nearly four times as likely to die from complications related to pregnancy than white women.

Joining the New Jersey senator in introducing similar legislation in the House was Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), who is a member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. In a joint press call, Pressley shared a personal story that highlighted why this is such an important issue to so many.

“My Grandma Carrie died giving birth to my youngest uncle, Jerome,” Pressley said. “It's hard to believe that that was the case in 1950, and here we find ourselves in 2019, and black women are still disproportionately dying in childbirth or in the days thereafter.”

Rep. Pressley's connection guides her in hoping that the story she shared can stop being a reality and the disparities that show up in care statistics can be closed for good.

“The lived experiences of Black women demonstrate how racism and trauma directly impact the health and wellbeing of marginalized communities for generations,” Pressley said. “Maternal justice is about ensuring that every mom-to-be is listened to and treated with dignity and respect during and after childbirth.

The Senate version of the legislation is being co-sponsored by Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

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