Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Kira Dixon Johnson

Kira Dixon Johnson died on April 13, 2016, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center hours after delivering her son by cesarean section. Her story inspired an episode of the primetime television show The Resident that aired last month. (Photo: 4Kira4Moms)

Healthy MOMMIES Act Introduced to Tackle 'Unconscionable' US Maternal Mortality Crisis

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Sen. Cory Booker, follows a CDC report revealing that black and Native American women are three times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes

Jessica Corbett

A group of congressional Democrats on Wednesday unveiled legislation that aims to tackle the nation's maternal mortality crisis—which disproportionately affects black and Native American women—by promoting community-based, holistic healthcare for pregnant women and new moms.

"Maternal justice is about ensuring that every mom-to-be is listened to and treated with dignity and respect during and after childbirth."
—Rep. Ayanna Pressley

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-Mass.), the lead sponsors, introduced the bill just a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an "absolutely devastating" report that revealed the country's maternal mortality rate is rising, most of those deaths are preventable, and black and Native American women are three times more likely than their white peers to die of pregnancy-related causes.

"It is unacceptable that the Unites States, the wealthiest country on Earth, has the highest maternal mortality rate [of] any developed nation in the world," Pressley said in a series of tweets. The congresswoman, a founding member of the new Black Maternal Health Caucus, called the racial disparities in maternal deaths "unconscionable."

The Healthy MOMMIES Act—short for Maximizing Outcomes for Moms through Medicaid Improvement and Enhancement of Services—features several provisions designed to reverse the rising rate of maternal deaths by expanding and improving healthcare coverage.

Specifically, as a fact sheet (pdf) from Pressley's office outlined, the bill intends to curb the national crisis by:

  • Expanding Medicaid coverage to include a full range of services to ensure people have access to comprehensive care throughout pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.
  • Granting access to primary healthcare providers by extending the Affordable Care Act's primary care bump for Medicaid beneficiaries.
  • Establishing a maternity care home model demonstration project.
  • Encouraging Medicaid to include access to community-based doula care.
  • Studying telemedicine as a mechanism for increasing access to maternity care.

"Maternal justice is about ensuring that every mom-to-be is listened to and treated with dignity and respect during and after childbirth," Pressley said in a statement. "The Healthy MOMMIES Act would do just that, by promoting a community-based, holistic approach to maternal care that recognizes current disparities in healthcare and critical environmental factors impacting communities."

"We simply cannot continue to accept this alarming status quo—we must do something about it and this bill is an important first step," added Booker, a 2020 presidential candidate.

Booker, in a press call reported by Refinery29, highlighted how the legislation would use Medicaid to serve high-risk women:

Our bill takes on an important and meaningful step towards addressing these alarming statistics by extending and enhancing the care pregnant women receive under Medicaid... Medicaid now covers almost half of all births in the United States. It's a powerful tool to use to improve maternal health overall, particularly for women of color, low-income women, and other underserved populations.

Co-sponsors of the Healthy MOMMIES Act include Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). Like Booker, Gillibrand and Harris are also running for president. In the House, the bill is backed by Reps. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) and Alma Adams (D-N.C.), founders and co-chairs of the Black Maternal Health Caucus.

"As a black mother and grandmother, this crisis is deeply personal to me," said Adams. "I co-founded the Black Maternal Health Caucus because black women are dying of preventable pregnancy-related complications at an alarming rate."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·


'How Many More Deaths Must It Take?' Barbados Leader Rips Rich Nations in Fierce UN Speech

"How many more variants of Covid-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide plan for vaccinations will be implemented?"

Jake Johnson ·


To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo