Rep. Robin Kelly Underscores the Importance of Black Maternal Health Week

Congresswoman Robin Kelly. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)
Congresswoman Robin Kelly. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

Washington, D.C.-(ENEWSPF)- Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL-02), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, released the following statement underscoring the importance of Black Maternal Health Week.

“This week as we mark Black Maternal Health Week, we focus on a critical health disparity facing Black women across our country,” said Rep. Kelly. “Black women throughout the United States are dying from pregnancy-related complications at an alarming rate, and recently released CDC data shows the problem is only worsening. In Illinois, Black women are nearly six times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications compared to our white counterparts.

“Monday, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra announced new measures to address the maternal mortality crisis, including approval of Illinois’ 1115 waiver application to extend Medicaid coverage for postpartum care from 60 days up to one full year. I successfully fought to include a provision in the American Rescue Plan to allow all states this option of extending Medicaid coverage for new mothers, and I urge states to take advantage of this opportunity to save the lives of mothers and babies.

“Expanding Medicaid coverage is a step forward, but it cannot be the end of our work, and this week cannot be the end of our focus on Black maternal health. We need additional policies in place to ensure that we are providing culturally competent care, that healthcare providers are treating Black women with the same respect and level of care as other women, and that we are dismantling the systemic racism that is so ingrained in our healthcare industry.

“Black Maternal Health Week is so important for opening peoples’ eyes to the reality of the health disparities Black mothers navigate. I look forward to continuing to find ways to ensure the health and safety of Black women and babies beyond this important week.”

Congresswoman Kelly is a longstanding proponent of legislation and policies to combat the maternal mortality crisis and save the lives of women. Earlier this year Congresswoman Kelly introduced the Supporting Best Practices for Healthy Moms Act, which would require Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to publish guidance for maternal care providers on how to prevent maternal mortality and morbidity. Last month she released the first-ever Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls report, where she highlighted the need for new policies to save the lives of new mothers. Last Congress, Congresswoman Kelly introduced the MOMMAs Act, the Protect Black Women and Girls Act of 2020, and the Helping Moms Act, which was passed by the House.