NCL applauds federal funding for maternal health in 2022 appropriations

March 18, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League –  Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC— The National Consumers League applauds the passage of the 2022 omnibus appropriations act. The appropriations bill, signed into law, includes over $1 billion in federal funding to support critical maternal health provisions needed to address the nation’s alarming maternal mortality rates.

We are pleased that many provisions of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 were included in the FY 2022 appropriations bill. The new law provides a significant increase in funding for the CDC’s safe motherhood & infant health programs. This additional support will help to identify drivers of maternal death rates in the states and expand evidence-based programs and interventions at hospitals and birthing facilities across the nation. The bill also includes a significant funding increase to the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, which will assist state and local health entities in providing the essential health and social services that our most vulnerable birthing people and babies need.

Provisions from the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act were also included in the fiscal year 2022 omnibus appropriations bill. These provisions provide funding that supports health professional schools to train future health care professionals about perceptions and biases in maternal health, which currently contribute to inequities in maternal health outcomes. In addition to racial bias, it is critical to invest in diversifying and expanding the perinatal workforce to include nurses, doulas, behavioral health professionals, and other practitioners. In a recent blog post, NCL Health Policy Associate Milena Berhane discusses the importance of diversifying the workforce and the negative impacts of racial bias on the quality of care for racial and ethnic minorities.

We recognize that perinatal suicides, which occur during pregnancy or up to one year postpartum, are a leading cause of maternal mortality in the United States. We are pleased that this appropriations act provides increased federal funding for maternal mental health programs. The additional funding will be critical in expanding access to community-based treatment and recovery services for pregnant people and new mothers who struggle with mental health or behavioral health conditions. The spending bill also funds additional necessary mental health resources, by increasing funding for the 24/7 maternal mental health hotline that is available to pregnant people and new mothers.

NCL applauds Congress for providing funding for critical maternal health provisions within the FY22 Omnibus bill. We will continue to advocate for the passage of additional maternal health provisions in future legislation and spending bills until we end the maternal mortality crisis in our nation.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

What California is doing to lower maternal mortality

Nissa ShaffiThe United States currently has the worst maternal mortality rate in the developed world, at 26.4 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 9.2 in the United Kingdom, 8 in France, and 5.5 in Australia. To put this in perspective, the United States currently has a higher maternal mortality rate than Saudi Arabia and Libya and is barely better than Mexico, Iran, and Russia. An even more devastating reality is the maternal mortality rate among black women, who are 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes than women of any other race in America.

There is some good news amid these grim numbers. The state of California has successfully worked in collaboration with public and private healthcare stakeholders to decrease the maternal mortality rate to seven deaths per 100,000 live births.

In 2006, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC) worked together to assemble a multidisciplinary committee of clinical experts to investigate this epidemic. This committee’s focus was to determine the causes of maternal deaths and the demographics of women most affected, along with identifying opportunities to turn the numbers around.

Within the first two years of its launch, the committee was able to identify placenta accreta and preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure) as the two most preventable causes of maternal mortality.  Placenta accreta is a condition in which the placenta affixes to the uterine wall and fails to separate postpartum, which results in severe obstetric hemorrhaging. Upon discovering a correlation between the rise in cesarean sections (C-sections) and placenta accreta cases, the CMQCC sought to reduce the number of C-sections that were medically unnecessary.

Additionally, the CMQCC revamped California’s hemorrhage guidelines to help make childbirth safer for mothers in the state. As a result, California has created a state model that has resulted in a dramatic decrease in maternal mortality, while the rest of the country continues to experience an increase in rates.

California has set an example for the rest of the country. Other states would do well to take a page from its example and turn around this alarming trend of increased maternal fatalities. In addition, a bill currently being voted on in Congress, the Maternal Health Accountability Act (S.1112), would be a federal remedy to help address this issue. The bill would require states to monitor and assess pregnancy-associated deaths and develop appropriate measures to improve the quality of maternal care. We should all ask our members of Congress to help pass the Maternal Health Accountability Act (S.1112), a bipartisan bill that could potentially save countless lives and reverse the damaging trend of maternal mortality in the United States.