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Senators Warnock, Rubio introduce new legislation to address maternal health crisis

Posted at 6:53 PM, Dec 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-09 21:57:17-05

Women are dying during childbirth at alarming rates in the United States.

Georgia has the worst maternal mortality ratio of any state in the country, according to the center for reproductive rights.

Often times women who live in rural America don't have access to maternal care facilities.

New legislation was introduced Thursday by Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock and Florida Senator Marco Rubio to address this issue.

According to Warnock's Office, this new legislation, called the "Improving Coordination for Healthy Moms Act," will "would direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to combine and coordinate efforts between two existing federal entities, the Department’s 'Healthy People Maternal, Infant, and Child Health Workgroup' and its 'Maternal Health Working Group,' to obtain more efficient data and optimize the federal government’s resources across the working groups to more efficiently address the nation’s maternal health crisis."

“Here in the state of Georgia, we’ve had ten hospitals close in the last ten years,” Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock said. “All of those hospitals are in rural areas. A lot of this is driven by the high rates of uncompensated care in our state and a high rates of uninsured people."

Stats are even worse when it comes to black women, who are six times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women nationally.

In April, Senator Warnock introduced the Kira Johnson Act. It’s named after a black mother who lost her life after delivering her second child via scheduled C-section.

“Thirty-nine years old; while it shouldn’t matter, a well educated person with income,” said Warnock. “We still saw these disparities that happen. Black women even when they have insurance and have income still have incredibly high rates maternal mortality and infant mortality.”

Stats from the Florida Department of Health show in 2019, 59% of the 21 infant and fetal deaths in Leon and Wakulla Counties were black babies compared to 30% of white babies.

Senator Warnock also has two additional maternal health bills currently included in the “Build Back Better” economic investment package.