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Robin Kelly’s CARE For Moms: Reducing Maternal Mortality and Morbidity

The CARE For Moms Act is a comprehensive solution to the mortality and morbidity crisis among American mothers, particularly Black mothers.

Washington, D.C.-(ENEWSPF)- As maternal mortality and morbidity continue to rise across the United States, disproportionately impacting Black women, Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL-02) introduced her CARE For Moms Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

The CARE For Moms Act builds upon key provisions from Rep. Kelly’s MOMMAs Act. That was already been passed as part of bipartisan initiatives. This includes the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act, the Helping MOMS Act, and the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act.


What the CARE for Moms Act Does

The CARE For Moms Act supports the maternal health workforce. It promotes access to prenatal and postpartum care, and provides the resources that moms and babies need to thrive. The CARE For Moms Act includes the following provisions:

  • Establish a State-Based Perinatal Quality Collaborative Grant Program.
  • Establish Regional Centers of Excellence to tackle implicit bias and promote cultural competence among health professionals.
  • Support federal efforts to grow and diversify the doula workforce.
  • Extend Medicaid coverage for postpartum mothers in all 50 states.
  • Establish grants for Rural Obstetric Mobile Units.
  • Require 90-day prior notification to HHS for hospital obstetric unit closures.
  • Extending Medicaid and CHIP to Oral Health Coverage to pregnant and postpartum women.
  • Extend WIC benefits for postpartum and breastfeeding women for two years.
  • Require HHS to produce a report on federal funding allocation for maternal health needs.

Congresswoman Kelly on Why of the CARE for Moms Act

“I’m introducing the CARE For Moms Act because moms deserve better. Black moms deserve better,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly, Chair of the CBC Health Braintrust. “When we care for moms and prioritize prenatal and postpartum care, we can help entire families flourish. The reality is that too many moms, particularly Black moms, are losing their lives. That’s why I’m pushing for change, supporting providers, and providing resources like mobile units and doulas. My goal is clear: to ensure that every mother has access to the care, empowerment, and resources necessary to be the best moms they can be.”

Sen. Durbin: Black Women Are 3X as Likely to Die from Pregnancy

“In the U.S., Black women are three times more likely die as a result of their pregnancy than White women. It is unacceptable that in this country we are losing mothers and their babies to deaths that could have been prevented. We must require the right interventions and health care,” said Durbin. “We must act to address this national tragedy. I’m joining Rep. Kelly to introduce the CARE for Moms Act. This will provide more comprehensive and culturally competent maternal and postpartum health care for mothers, especially women of color, and their babies.”

Supporting Organizations Weigh In

Alliance for Women’s Health & Prevention

“AWHP focuses on advancing policies that ensure equitable access to high-quality, affordable preventive care for all women. We proudly endorse the CARE for Moms Act. AWHP applauds Representative Kelly for taking the initiative to address this crucial issue. Every woman deserves accessible and culturally competent care during all stages of pregnancy. This includes postpartum. This bill can help turn the tide in our nation’s preventable maternal health crisis.” This is from Millicent Gorham, CEO and Board Chair, Alliance for Women’s Health & Prevention (AWHP)

National Partnership for Women & Families

“Robust interventions to address the substantial racial inequities in maternal health in the United States are long overdue. They require immediate action. The CARE for Moms Act would be an important step forward to help alleviate this crisis. It has specific policies to ensure that moms have the support and care they need when they need it most. CARE for Moms will improve access to doula support. They will offer guidance and more holistic assistance throughout the birthing process while increasing quality care and access to coverage. The bill will also target the structural factors driving the disproportionately high rate of Black maternal mortality. The National Partnership is pleased to endorse the CARE for Moms Act. We also want to thank Rep. Robin Kelly for sponsoring the bill. We appreciate her longtime leadership on maternal health.” -Jocelyn Frye, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families.

March of Dimes

“In the U.S., more than 80% of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. However, our country continues to experience high maternal mortality rates compared to other high-income countries. More than 5.6 million women live in counties with no or limited access to maternity care services. This is according to March of Dimes’ new set of reports “Where You Live Matters: Maternity Care Deserts and the Crisis of Access and Equity”. This is why March of Dimes strongly supports the Community Access, Resources, and Empowerment (CARE) for Moms Act.

“This legislation would require all states to extend Medicaid postpartum coverage to one year. They would also cover the oral health needs of pregnant moms. In addition, this bill would enhance and expand support for Perinatal Quality Collaboratives (PQCs). In short, incentivize doula support services. Also, provide grants for rural obstetric mobile health units, and mandate notification of hospital obstetric care unit closures. We thank the sponsors Rep. Robin Kelly and Senator Richard Durbin for their leadership. They are addressing our nation’s maternal mortality crisis. With this legislation, every mom and baby can have a healthy start,” said Stacey Y. Brayboy, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs, March of Dimes.

Author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting

“Every mom deserves the respectful, responsive, nurturing and equitable continuum of care. Whatever she needs to deliver a healthy beginning and healthy future for herself and the baby she loves. But imagine being pregnant and living far from the nearest OB clinic. Imagine that you can’t access routine prenatal care and screenings. Or finding out that the only hospital that offered maternity care within 100 miles of you just stopped doing deliveries. Perhaps they shut down completely. Imagine suffering a serious postpartum complication 16 weeks after giving birth and being unable to receive lifesaving care — because the state you live in has refused to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months. Or being unable to afford or even locate a doula to provide the vital support you need.

“That’s the reality for far too many moms in our nation–and it’s a reality that results in far too many moms and their babies dying or suffering lifelong health consequences from preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth. That’s unacceptable and that’s why the WTEP and I are proud to support the CARE for Moms Act, so that every mom can expect the healthy pregnancy, the safe delivery, and the healthy future she and her baby deserve. We’re grateful for the passionate leadership and tireless efforts and commitment from Senator Durbin and Representative Kelly on behalf of all our moms,” said Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses

“On behalf of the members of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, I thank Rep. Robin Kelly for introducing the Community Access, Resources, and Empowerment (CARE) for Moms Act. By providing funding for state-based Perinatal Quality Collaboratives, expanding Medicaid and CHIP, establishing regional centers of excellence, extending WIC benefits, requiring notification of impending hospital obstetric unit closure, and requiring HHS to issue a report on where maternal health needs are greatest would make the reforms crucial for reducing the rising maternal morbidity and mortality rate.” – Jonathan Webb, MPH, MBA, Chief Executive Officer of AWHONN

Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs

“The Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) is proud to endorse the CARE for Moms Act and urges Congress to pass this critical legislation this year,” said AMCHP CEO Terrance E. Moore. “The CARE for Mom’s Act takes a comprehensive approach to improving maternal health and eliminating racial inequities in maternal health outcomes in the United States by strengthening health care coverage for pregnant and postpartum people, improving access to quality clinical care, growing the maternal and child health (MCH) workforce, and addressing gaps for rural MCH populations.

“State maternal mortality review committees across the country have identified Medicaid extension in the postpartum period as a foundational policy for addressing out nation’s maternal mortality crisis, and the CARE for Moms Act sets the gold standard for extending Medicaid coverage to 12 months postpartum. We’re grateful to Rep. Robin Kelly and Sen. Durbin for their staunch leadership in maternal health policy and look forward to our continued partnership.”

National Women’s Health Network

“The National Women’s Health Network applauds Rep. Kelly for her leadership and dedication to ending the maternal mortality crisis. The maternal mortality rate in the U.S. continues to exceed other high-income countries. And none are more affected than Black and indigenous women living in rural communities who face structural barriers and systemic inequities to care. This bill not only makes historic investments to diversify and expand our perinatal workforce, but it recognizes the unique challenges of providing care in rural communities.

“Women in rural communities are expected to travel long distances to seek care. This is before, during and after pregnancy, increasing their risk for infant and maternal mortality. This issue is only worsened when a rural hospital closes their labor and delivery services. Sometimes this is to save costs and prevent the hospital from closing. The CARE for Moms Act will ensure women will continue to get the care they so urgently need.” This is from Denise Hyater Lindenmuth, Executive Director of the National Women’s Health Network

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

“Our country’s maternal mortality crisis is staggering and unfortunately the data tell us this crisis only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for Black and Indigenous women. Addressing our maternal mortality crisis must be a top public health priority. It is critical that we continue to invest in evidence-based efforts to eliminate racial health inequities. We must grow and diversify our perinatal workforce; and increase access to prenatal and postpartum care.

“The CARE for Moms act will help by establishing 12 months of mandatory postpartum Medicaid coverage in all 50 states. It will invest in perinatal quality collaboratives. Finally, it will increase access to care for people living in rural areas. ACOG is proud to support the CARE for Moms Act and we thank Congresswoman Kelly for her continued leadership in advancing policies to improve maternal health and access to care,” – Christopher M. Zahn, MD, interim CEO of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.