Underwood’s Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Maternal Health Care for Veterans Passes the House

May 12, 2021
Press Release
The Protecting Moms Who Served Act is the first bill in Underwood’s Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act to pass the House

WASHINGTON— Today, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood’s (IL-14) bipartisan legislation to improve maternal health care for veterans passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support. The Protecting Moms Who Served Act (H.R. 958), introduced with Chairwoman Julia Brownley (CA-26) and Representatives Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), seeks to eliminate maternal mortality, morbidity, and disparities among veterans. The Protecting Moms Who Served Act is a part of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act (H.R. 959) and is the first bill in the Momnibus to pass on the floor of the House of Representatives. The bipartisan Senate version of the legislation is led by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.  

“The U.S. suffers unacceptable rates of preventable maternal mortality, and veterans are uniquely at-risk. With the Protecting Moms Who Served Act, we can make sure that the Department of Veterans Affairs provides the highest quality maternal health care and support for moms who have served,” said Rep. Underwood. “I’m so thrilled to see this bipartisan effort that I’m leading with Chairwoman Julia Brownley and Representatives Gus Bilirakis and Brian Fitzpatrick pass the House, and I thank Chairman Takano for his leadership to advance this bipartisan legislation through the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. I urge the Senate to pass this bill as soon as possible so that we can send it to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Our moms can’t wait.  

These critical investments in the maternal healthcare all female Veterans receive will help save lives and lead to healthier outcomes for moms and babies,” said Representative Bilirakis. “Our nation’s heroes deserve the best possible care, and our legislation gets us one step closer to achieving that goal.”  

“As the Chairwoman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health and the Women Veterans Task Force, I commend Congresswoman Underwood’s unwavering leadership in the fight to end disparities in maternal care for women veterans. As women continue to be the fastest growing group within the veteran population, VA must have the resources to provide quality, gender-specific care, like maternal care, at their facilities. This bill will improve critical care coordination for women veterans receiving maternal care at VA,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley. “To identify gaps in maternal care and remedy them, the bill also requires a first-of-its kind, comprehensive study on maternal mortality and morbidity at VA, with an important focus on racial and ethnic disparities. I am grateful for the bipartisan support that we received in the House for this bill, and I urge the Senate to pass this bill as quickly as possible.”

“The brave women who served in our nation’s Armed Forces are heroes and deserve the benefits they have earned. The Protecting Moms Who Served Act ensures that the Department of Veterans Affairs will provide the quality maternal health care that our veterans deserve,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to see this bipartisan legislation pass the House and look forward to seeing the bill passed in the Senate and signed into law.”

Underwood’s floor speech on the passage of the legislation can be found here.  

The Protecting Moms Who Served Act would codify and strengthen the Department of Veterans Affairs maternity care coordination programs to ensure veterans receive the high-quality maternal health care and support they have earned. Additionally, the bill would commission the first-ever comprehensive study of the scope of America’s maternal health crisis among women veterans, with a particular focus on racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes. 

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, led by Underwood, was reintroduced in February with Rep. Alma Adams (NC-12) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). The Momnibus builds on existing maternal health legislation with 12 bills to comprehensively address the clinical and non-clinical drivers of the maternal health crisis in the United States. The Momnibus makes critical investments in addressing social determinants of health, funding community-based organizations, growing and diversifying the perinatal workforce, and improving data collection processes. The Momnibus also includes new legislation to address the impacts of COVID-19 and climate change on maternal and infant health outcomes.