Maternal mortality is a growing problem in Ohio and around the country. Too many mothers are dying, particularly mothers of color. Nationally, Black mothers die at three times the rate of white mothers, and are twice as likely to suffer from life-threatening complications with their pregnancies. And as many as half of these deaths could be preventable.
It’s unacceptable that this many Black women die in childbirth, in the year 2021.
That’s why I’m introducing the bipartisan Supporting Best Practices for Healthy Moms Act with Senator Pat Toomey, which would create a diverse and representative National Advisory Committee on Reducing Maternal Deaths. I am also joining my colleagues to introduce what we’re calling the ‘momnibus’ — a package of 12 bills that would help reduce Black maternal mortality by addressing social determinants of health, building a diverse health care workforce, and boosting digital tools like telehealth.
We also made important progress in the American Rescue Plan that President Biden signed into law this week. In this bill, we successfully included a provision which will extend Medicaid coverage for new mothers from the current 60 days postpartum to a full year, so that new mothers aren’t forced off their health insurance just two months after giving birth.
There isn’t one solution to reducing the maternal mortality rate in our state – we need a comprehensive approach, and these efforts are part of that. Other tools include protecting Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act against political attacks, and declaring racism a public health crisis.
We need to do more – that’s why I look forward to working with experts and other health care providers to reduce racial disparities in our health care system and help women of color have safer, healthier pregnancies.
Sherrod Brown is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio.