Monday afternoon, U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff began a push to improve maternal health and curb maternal mortality rates in Georgia and nationwide, It’s a crisis that disproportionately impacts Black women.

Black women in Georgia are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women nationally, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Senator Ossoff is calling on Congress to pass several pieces of legislation to improve maternal health outcomes and reduce the maternal mortality rate in Georgia and across the country.

“The shockingly high maternal mortality rate for Black women in Georgia is a travesty. It is unacceptable for any mother to suffer or die because she lacks proper care, and that’s why I’m urging my colleagues to pass this legislation I’ve cosponsored that addresses maternal mortality for Black women in Georgia,” Senator Ossoff said in a statement.

Additionally, Georgia’s maternal death rate reached 66.3 deaths per 100,000 live births from 2013 to 2017, as opposed to the national maternal death rate of 29.6, according to CDC data published through America’s Health Rankings.

According to the CDC, nearly two thirds of maternal deaths occur during or after pregnancy, increasing the need for stronger preventative and post-partum care.

Here are the bills Senator Ossoff are co-sponsoring:

Social Determinants for Moms Act

  • Establishes a task force across agencies and departments to coordinate federal efforts to address social determinants of health for pregnant and postpartum people.
  • Provides funding for safe, stable, adequate, quality housing for pregnant and postpartum people.
  • Studies the transportation barriers that prevent pregnant and postpartum people from attending maternity care appointments and accessing important social services.
  • Extends WIC eligibility periods for new moms.
  • Provides funding to establish and scale programs that deliver nutritious food, infant formula, clean water, and diapers to pregnant and postpartum people in food deserts.
  • Studies the effects of environmental risks to maternal and infant health outcomes and makes recommendations for steps to end racial and ethnic disparities.
  • Provides funding for free, drop-in child care access.
  • Provides grants to community-based organizations and public health departments to address unique social determinants of health needs in their communities.

Moms Matter Act

  • Invests in community-based programs that provide mental and behavioral health treatments and support to moms with maternal health conditions or substance use disorder.
  • Provides funding for programs to grow and diversify the maternal mental and behavioral health care workforce to expand access to culturally congruent care and support for pregnant and postpartum people with maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders.

Data to Save Moms Act

  • Promotes greater diversity and community engagement in state and Tribal Maternal Mortality Review Committees.
  • Conducts a comprehensive review of maternal health data collection processes and quality measures through engagement with key stakeholders to consider issues.
  • Commissions a comprehensive study on maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity among Native American pregnant and postpartum people.
  • Invests in maternal health research at Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), like HBCUs.

Perinatal Workforce Act

  • Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide guidance to states on the promotion of racially, ethnically, and professionally diverse maternity care teams and to study how culturally congruent maternity care promotes better outcomes for moms, especially in communities of color.
  • Provides funding to establish and scale programs that will grow and diversify the maternal health workforce.
  • Studies the barriers that prevent women – particularly from underserved communities – from entering maternity care professions and receiving equitable compensation.

Tech to Save Moms Act

  • Requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center to consider models that improve the integration of telehealth services in maternal health care.
  • Provides funding for technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building models that will develop and disseminate instructional programming and training for maternity care providers in underserved areas.
  • Establishes a grant program to promote digital tools designed to address racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes.
  • Studies the use of new technologies, like artificial intelligence, in maternal health care to prevent racial and ethnic biases from being built into maternity care innovations.

 Protecting Moms Who Served Act

  • Codifies maternity care coordination programs at VA facilities.
  • Commissions a comprehensive study on maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity among veterans.

According to the Georgia Department of Health, all Georgia physicians, laboratories, and other health care providers are required by law to report the death of a woman during or within 1 year of the end of pregnancy, irrespective of cause, within 7 days.

U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff speaks during a press conference at Clark Atlanta University on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...