U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist and Val Demings joined 165 colleagues to urge Capitol Hill leadership to address the country’s Black maternal health crisis.
In a letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, 167 Congress members — including nine Florida Democrats — pushed for the inclusion of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act (H.R. 959), and a permanent expansion of yearlong postpartum Medicaid coverage.
“The maternal mortality rate for Black mothers is 3-4 times higher than the rate for White mothers — a deeply troubling disparity that demands immediate action,” Crist, who is running for the Governor’s seat in 2022, said in a statement. “We need to get serious about passing the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act to reduce this disparity and provide the resources and quality health care Black mothers have too long been denied.”
In the letter, the Congress members called for leadership to include the full $3 billion allocated in President Joe Biden’s plan to address the maternal health crisis.
“The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any high-income country and the only rate that is rising,” the letter states, adding that “the risks for pregnant people have only grown during COVID-19.”
The letter also promotes a plan to permanently expand yearlong postpartum Medicaid coverage — a standard that currently sits at 60 days. According to the letter, “this historic step will allow new mothers to access the care they need and deserve for the full postpartum period.”
“Permanently expanding postpartum Medicaid coverage and advancing policies in the Momnibus are necessary investments that will save lives, promote health equity, and advance the fundamental principle that in America, every family has a right to thrive — a principle that begins with a safe and healthy pregnancy and birth,” the letter states. “We look forward to working with you to advance this urgent priority.”
Other Florida lawmakers who signed onto the letter include: U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Al Lawson, Frederica Wilson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel and Darren Soto.