June 15, 2023

New Duckworth-Collins Bipartisan Legislation Would Improve Maternal Care at VA

This effort builds on the lawmakers’ bipartisan law that’s helping address the maternal mortality crisis among women Veterans


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)—member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and who served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years—and U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced new bipartisan legislation to help improve maternal care at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Building on their bipartisan Protecting Moms Who Served Act, which was signed into law in 2021, the Maternal Health for Veterans Act would strengthen oversight of the VA maternity care coordination while authorizing new funding to make sure the VA has what it needs to provide more women Veterans with access to the maternal care they’ve earned through their service. U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) recently introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“Our Veterans have sacrificed so much for us and it’s our duty to make sure they have the care and services they need, including access to high-quality maternal healthcare,” said Senator Duckworth. “For too long, preventable pregnancy complications have been overlooked or ignored—it’s time we change that. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill with Senator Collins and Congresswoman Underwood to build on the success of our previous efforts to better empower the VA to provide more access to maternal care for our women Veterans and save lives across the nation.”

“America’s veterans deserve to receive the benefits, resources, and recognition they earned through their service to our country,” said Senator Collins. “This bipartisan bill is an important step forward in honoring the service of female veterans by addressing their unique healthcare needs. By allocating resources and enhancing coordination efforts, this legislation will pave the way for improved maternal health outcomes among our veteran population, better ensuring that every female veteran receives the high-quality healthcare she has earned.”

“We have an important responsibility to provide quality maternal health care and support to moms who have served,” said Congresswoman Underwood. “The Maternal Health for Veterans Act would ensure VA can meet the growing demand for maternity care services. As a key component of the Momnibus, this legislation builds on the historic funding that was signed into law in 2021 through the bipartisan, bicameral Protecting Moms Who Served Act. This legislation will save moms’ lives and help end our country’s maternal health crisis, and I’m proud to join Senators Duckworth, Collins, and Booker in introducing this critical part of the Momnibus Act.”

A copy of the bill text is available here.

The Protecting Moms Who Served Act was the first bill in the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act to be signed into law to help save moms’ lives, end racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes and achieve maternal health justice.

Duckworth also worked with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) to secure a provision in the American Rescue Plan that gave states a five-year option to extend healthcare coverage for new moms on Medicaid from 60 days after pregnancy to a full year. The provision was based off of legislation that Duckworth, Durbin and U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL-02) re-introduced that sought to reduce America’s rising maternal and infant mortality rate.