Black Maternal Health Caucus Celebrates Passage of Priorities in Appropriations Bill

June 24, 2019
Press Release
Caucus co-chaired by Underwood and Adams works to raise awareness and develop legislation to combat disparities in maternal health outcomes experienced by black women

WASHINGTON— Today, Congresswomen Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and Alma Adams (NC-12) released the following statements after multiple priorities of the Black Maternal Health Caucus passed the House of Representatives, including key investments for research aimed at reducing and improving maternal health disparities. The legislation passed as part of the Fiscal Year 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations.

The United States currently has the worst maternal death rates in the developed world, at 18 deaths per 100,00 live births. The maternal mortality rate is alarmingly higher among black women, at 40 deaths per 100,000 live births. Black women are nearly four times more like than white women – and more than twice as likely as women on other races – to die from preventable, pregnancy-related complications. Black women also experience higher rates of maternal complications and infant mortality. They are twice as likely to lose an infant to premature death, and these disparities have not improved for more than 30 years.

“For more than 30 years, maternal health disparities have not improved, and we currently lack research to address this national crisis. I thank Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro and Ranking Member Tom Cole for their dedication to addressing maternal health with these investments,” said Underwood. “This is an important step forward toward achieving optimal birth outcomes for all families. As a nurse and as a co-founder of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, I am fully committed to advancing policies that reduce maternal health disparities.”

“We’re facing a black maternal health crisis in this country. Black women are dying of preventable pregnancy complications nearly 4 times as often as white women. That’s why Congresswoman Underwood and I started the Black Maternal Health Caucus, and why I’m so glad to see black maternal health priorities included in the House’s first appropriations bill. We must continue working to ensure all women have equal access to the pre- and post-natal care they need to not only survive, but to thrive – before, during and after pregnancy,” said Adams.

Priorities passed include:

  • $1.58 billion for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which supports research that investigates the causes and interventions for maternal health disparities among black women;
  • $50 million to initiate research on maternal mortality and disparities in maternal mortality rates;
  • $23 million for state Maternal Health Innovation grants;
  • $705 for a maternal and child health block grant ;
  • $5 million for Maternal Health Safety Bundles;
  • $10 million for hospitals promoting breastfeeding;
  • Extension for the Task Force on Research in Pregnant and Lactating Women ;
  • $15 million for Healthy Start;
  • $2.5 million for midwife education to address the national shortage of maternity care providers, specifically the lack of diversity in the maternity care workforce;
  • Additional $5 million for the Maternal and Child Health Bureau;
  • $76 million for coordinated services and access to research for women, infants, children and youth;
  • $12 million increase in funding for the Center of Disease Control Safe Motherhood and Infant Health program’s Maternal Mortality Review Committees, supporting research to comprehensively assess maternal deaths and identify opportunities for prevention.

Full video of Underwood’s remarks can be found here

In April, Underwood and Congresswoman Adams launched the Black Maternal Health Caucus to improve black maternal health outcomes. The Black Maternal Health Caucus aims to raise awareness within Congress to establish Black maternal health as a national priority, and explore and advocate for effective, evidence-based, culturally-competent policies and best practices for health outcomes for Black mothers.

In addition to Underwood and Adams, 73 Representatives are members of the Caucus; including support from Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clark, DPCC Co-Chair Debbie Dingell, DWC Co-Chair Brenda Lawrence.