First Candle Supports MOMMIES Act to Improve Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes

This week Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) introduced a bill to reduce the United States’ rising maternal mortality rates, improve maternal and infant health outcomes, and close the disparities that continue to put mothers and children of color at risk.

The bill, the Maximizing Outcomes for Moms through Medicaid Improvement and Enhancement of Services (MOMMIES) Act, would enhance coverage for pregnant women covered by Medicaid — which covers nearly half of all births in the United States — by extending coverage for many women to a full year after childbirth, increasing access to primary care providers and women’s health providers, establishing a maternity care home demonstration project, and taking action to expand access to doula care.

“In this country, black women are four times more likely to die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth, and the rate of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths is almost three times higher for black babies,”  explains Alison Jacobson, CEO of First Candle. “This is quickly becoming a public health crisis, and we at First Candle are grateful that it is starting to be addressed. We stand by legislators and other organizations who are working to save the lives of mothers and babies.”

Specifically, the MOMMIES Act would improve maternal health outcomes by:

  • Extending Medicaid coverage for postpartum women to a full year after giving birth, rather than the current limit of 60 days that many women face.
  • Ensuring that all pregnant and postpartum women have full Medicaid coverage, rather than coverage that can be limited to pregnancy-related services.
  • Establishing a maternity care home demonstration project to study this innovative model of care in several states.
  • Extending the Affordable Care Act’s primary care bump to ensure that Medicaid beneficiaries have access to primary care providers, including women’s health providers.
  • Encouraging increased access to doula care to provide pregnant women on Medicaid with emotional, physical, and informational support.
  • Studying telemedicine and its effectiveness and potential to improve Medicaid beneficiaries’ access to maternity care

“It’s critical that a mother receive postpartum care, both for her own health and that of her baby.  Doulas are best equipped to be able to provide this care which includes educating families on safe sleep recommendations for baby and breastfeeding support, two key factors in decreasing the rates of sleep-related infant deaths.  Doulas should be accessible to all women and we support efforts to increase access.” notes Ms. Jacobson.

We are also grateful to  Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), where First Candle is headquartered, for supporting this bill. 

You can learn more about MOMMIES Act on our site.