Warren, Underwood, Booker, Gillibrand, Smith Urge Senate and House Leadership to Include Provisions From the Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act in the Upcoming COVID-19 Relief Package
Provisions would dedicate greater resources to combating the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond
Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.), along with Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.), sent a letter urging Senate and House leadership to include provisions in the upcoming coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) relief package that dedicate greater resources to safeguarding the health of pregnant and postpartum individuals and combating the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the lawmakers asked that leadership include portions of their Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act, which has received 165 group endorsements, in the package.
"It is crucial that the federal government make a concerted effort to account for the unique needs of pregnant people in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as the country continues to grapple with a severe maternal mortality and morbidity crisis fueled by racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic inequities; comorbidities; and inadequate access to the health care system - the same factors that have contributed to the substantial racial disparities in COVID-19 outcomes," the lawmakers wrote. "A federal COVID-19 pandemic response without attention to maternal health will only exacerbate the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis plaguing our nation: women in the United States die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth at a higher rate than in any other developed country and the United States has the only maternal mortality rate that has increased over the last 20 years."
Black and Indigenous women in the United States are much more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women, and women of color suffer disproportionately high rates of maternal morbidity. These communities that are at greatest risk for maternal death and illness are also disproportionately affected by COVID-19: people of color are significantly more likely to contract, be hospitalized, and die from COVID-19.
"(I)n responding to these numerous and pressing challenges, the federal government cannot lose sight of its obligation to safeguard the health of our most vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic, including pregnant individuals--a community that is often overlooked in pandemic response efforts. In package negotiations, we strongly encourage you to strengthen the federal government's ability to do so by patching holes in data collection, expanding surveillance efforts, improving public health communication, and addressing racial disparities in health care outcomes related to both COVID-19 and maternal health outcomes," wrote the lawmakers.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Senator Warren has been fighting for pregnant individuals to ensure they receive the care they need:
- Most recently, Senators Warren and Smith and Representative Underwood, co-sponsored Senator Booker's Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021.
- In August 2020, Senator Warren and Representative Underwood introduced the Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act to improve research and data collection, safeguard the health of pregnant and postpartum individuals, and dedicate resources to combat the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Senator Warren has led her colleagues in urging HHS to address the needs of pregnant people during the COVID-19 pandemic and combat the maternal mortality crisis - and urged NIH and FDA to incorporate the needs of pregnant people in vaccine development.
- In April 2020, Senator Warren joined Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ranking Member of Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, in releasing a new GAO report underscoring the need to address the maternal mortality crisis.
- She also co-sponsored Senator Booker's MOMMIES Act and Senator Richard Durbin's (D-Ill.) Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness (MOMMA) Act.
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