March 05, 2021

Duckworth, Durbin Announce Inclusion of Maternal Health Provision From Their MOMMA’S Act In American Rescue Plan


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that a provision based off their bicameral Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness (MOMMA’s) Act, sponsored in the House by U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL-02), is included in the American Rescue Plan.  The provision gives states a five-year option to extend health care coverage for new moms on Medicaid from 60 days after pregnancy to a full year.   In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this provision will help improve and save the lives of new mothers—especially women of color who are at increased risk of serious complications, or even death, because of their pregnancy.  

 “This provision allowing new mothers to keep their health coverage for a full year after they give birth is a step in the right direction towards addressing our nation’s growing maternal mortality crisis, which disproportionately impacts women of color and those living in underserved or more rural areas,” Duckworth said. “I’m proud to have worked alongside Senator Durbin to secure this critical provision in the American Rescue Plan, and I’ll keep working to make sure that no more women die from preventable causes related to childbirth.” 

“This is a commonsense and widely supported policy which allows mothers a chance to stay on Medicaid health coverage for a full year after their pregnancy. In particular, this will benefit new moms of color, who are six times more likely than white women in Illinois to die because of their pregnancy.  Cutting off health coverage for new mothers just two months after they give birth—especially in the midst of a pandemic—is both dangerous and short-sighted, which is why I’m glad the Senate will pass this measure as part of the American Rescue plan,” Durbin said.

The United States is one of only 13 countries in the world where the maternal mortality rate is worse now that it was 25 years ago and is the only industrialized country with a rising maternal mortality rate.  These shocking statistics cut across geography, education level, income, and socio-economic status. On average, maternal mortality claims the lives of about 700 American moms each year—an additional 70,000 women suffer near-fatal health complications—with more than 60 percent of these deaths being preventable.  Women of color are particularly at risk—nationwide, Black women are more than three times as likely than white women to suffer pregnancy-related deaths.

Maternal and infant mortality is especially important to Illinois families.  According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), on average, 73 new Illinois mothers die every year, with more than 70 percent of these deaths deemed preventable. While Illinois’ maternal mortality rate is slightly lower than the national average, the disparity of Black mothers dying is nearly double the national disparity.  According to the IDPH, Black mothers in Illinois die at 600 percent the rate of their white counterparts.

The importance of passing this provision has become even more vital given that the ongoing global health pandemic has both disproportionately impacted our communities of color, and left many pregnant and postpartum women searching for answers about how best to protect themselves and their children.