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Addressing the United States’ Maternal Health Crisis: Congress Signs Over $100 million in “Momnibus” Funding Into Law

Bintou Diarra | Editorial Lead | MS1: Alpert Medical School of Brown University | April 16, 2024

The United States is one of the most dangerous countries in which to give birth. Not only is our maternal mortality rate higher than that of any other high-income country despite advances in medical technology and healthcare access, but the burden is not equally distributed. Black birthing people are three to four times more likely to die of pregnancy and childbirth related complications, with this number representing the baseline. 

On April 3rd, 2024, the tireless efforts of the Black Maternal Health Caucus (BMHC) and advocates culminated in a major step in the fight to change these dismal outcomes. President Biden signed corrective maternal health priorities into law as part of the bipartisan Consolidated Appropriations Act and Further Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2024, which includes over $100 million for BMHC priorities and key Momnibus funding. This is one major step in what has been a longitudinal process, and will build on funding that the BMHC secured in 2023.

“For the fifth year in a row, the Black Maternal Health Caucus secured significant federal resources to address our maternal health crisis and save moms’ lives. As a Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I’m pleased that we reached bipartisan agreement to fund evidence-based programs to support moms across the country and to directly address the drivers of maternal mortality and morbidity,” said BMHC co-chair Lauren Underwood per their press release. “But our work is far from done. Moms across America are demanding a comprehensive solution, and they cannot afford to wait any longer. We must pass the Momnibus now.”

While the ultimate goal is the official passage of the Momnibus Act, the appropriations package includes a number of initiatives that are likely to address outcomes in the interim. Among them is the allocation of $53.4 million dollars towards the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) implementation of a Maternal Health and Pregnancy Outcomes Vision for Everyone initiative, which will allow the NIH to expand research on the root and leading causes of maternal mortality, morbidity, and disparities. Additionally, the funding aims to enable the NIH to investigate clinical and non-clinical interventions that will improve outcomes to promote maternal health equity.

The United States’ maternal health crisis reflects glaring racial disparities, and the bill accounts for the necessity of intentional effort and action in bridging gaps. Pulling from the demands of the Kira Johnson Act, the package is offering $7 million through the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Minority Health to fund community-based organizations that support birthing people in areas with high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity. This promising offering is a reminder that community-based tools and interventions are indispensable in the fight to improve outcomes. 

Additionally, the package offers $55 million through HRSA to fund Grants, which allows states to collaborate with key stakeholders and experts to implement policies and plans specific to local communities. Through their collaborative efforts, they will implement state-specific initiatives to improve access to maternal care services, identify and address workforce needs, and support postpartum and interconception care services.

For the BMHC, this historic win is only the beginning. As they consider the Appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2025, they are unrelenting in their demands for a solution that not just adequately, but also comprehensively addresses the United States’ maternal health crisis—the full passage of the Momnibus Act.

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