Luján, Murkowski, Hinson, Watson Coleman Introduce Legislation to Combat Maternal and Infant Mortality Crisis

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and U.S. Representatives Ashley Hinson (R-IA) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) reintroduced the Midwives for Maximizing Optimal Maternity Services (MOMS) Act to address the maternal and infant mortality crisis by increasing the number of trained midwives in the United States. The bipartisan legislation would increase funding for midwifery education, and increase diversity in the maternity care workforce by prioritizing students from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, maternal and infant mortality is higher for Black, Native American, and Hispanic communities than their white counterparts. Integrations of midwifery into maternal health care has been linked to healthy births for moms and babies.

“Dating back to the traditional curandera-parteras of the early 1900s, midwives have long been an essential part of New Mexico’s health care system – safely delivering children, caring for families, and improving maternal health outcomes,” said Senator Luján. “I’m proud to reintroduce bipartisan legislation that delivers additional funding for midwifery education to boost the maternity care workforce and increase diversity. As the maternal and infant mortality crisis continue to impact Black, Native American, and Hispanic communities, this legislation is an important step to address this disparity and keep families healthy.”

“I’m proud to join the reintroduction of the Midwives for MOMS Act, which would address gaps in maternal health care by expanding opportunities for midwifery training and education,” said Senator Murkowski. “Quality maternal care is critical to the health and well-being of mothers and their babies, but in Alaska there are significant challenges in accessing maternal care in rural communities. Workforce shortages and geographical challenges contribute to health disparities, and populations like Alaska Natives are particularly impacted in our state. We must work to ensure that all expecting mothers and their babies are able to get the maternal health and perinatal care they need. We can help grow this critically needed workforce in Alaska and throughout the U.S. and improve access to maternal health care.

“Many communities in the United States are suffering with maternal mortality rates that are higher than in many developing nations. It is inexcusable that the United States, the wealthiest nation on Earth, has such a high maternal mortality rate,” said Congresswoman Watson Coleman. “Millions of women live in a maternity care desert – hundreds of thousands of babies are born to women living in counties with no access to maternity care. In addition to the significant lack of diversity in the maternity care workforce, we are also facing an increasing shortage of trained maternity care providers – and our underserved communities are hit the hardest. Ensuring every woman can access the care they need during pregnancy is a critical part of ending this crisis. The Midwives for MOMS Act will address many of the issues in the maternal care workforce and reduce maternity care costs for hardworking families.”

“The American College of Nurse-Midwives thanks Congress for recognizing the critical role that all nationally certified midwives play in providing high-quality, equitable maternal care,” said ACNM Interim CEO Michelle Munroe, DNP, APRN, CNM, FACNM, FAAN. “Establishing a federal grant funding program for midwifery education is crucial to improving racial and ethnic representation and increasing the number of certified midwives within our nation’s maternal health workforce. The bipartisan and bicameral Midwives for MOMS Act takes important steps to alleviate significant pressures U.S. communities and health systems are experiencing due to the shortage of trained maternal health care providers, particularly in high need rural and urban areas. By improving access to full scope and culturally appropriate midwifery care provided by CNMs and CMs, we will be able to better address the considerable disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes found in far too many of our communities.”

“Maternity provider workforce shortages contribute to the increasing numbers of maternity care deserts in the US. American Association of Birth Centers is pleased that the Midwives for MOMS bill is being introduced with bipartisan sponsorship in both the House and the Senate. This legislation will provide funding for the education of more credentialed midwives to provide services in the communities that urgently need them,” said Kate Bauer, Executive Director of AABC. 

Full text of the legislation is available HERE.



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