MIL-OSI USA: Underwood and Vice President Harris Announce Administration’s Strategy to Address Maternal Health Crisis


Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14)

WEST CHICAGO – Today, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) joined Vice President Kamala Harris in Plainfield, Illinois to announce the White House Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis, a comprehensive strategy that lays out the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach to cut maternal mortality and morbidity rates, reduce disparities in maternal health outcomes, and improve the quality of care and support during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. 

Underwood and Harris have a long record of working together to elevate maternal mortality as a national priority. When Harris served in the Senate, she joined Underwood and Congresswoman Alma Adams to introduce the historic Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, a sweeping package of 12 bills to save moms’ lives and empower women at every stage of their pregnancy and postpartum period. Harris has continued her leadership in her role as Vice President; in December, Underwood spoke at the first-ever federal Maternal Health Day of Action that Harris convened. 

“The U.S. maternal health crisis is real and it’s worsening; in 2022, moms should not be dying as a result of pregnancy-related complications and childbirth. This crisis affects all of us — women who live in cities and suburbs, women with and without higher education degrees, and women with and without private coverage,” said Underwood. “There has never been an Administration as dedicated to saving moms’ lives as the Biden-Harris Administration, and we have Vice President Harris to credit for that. I’m grateful for Vice President Harris’ continued leadership on this important priority and I look forward to continuing to work with her to carry out this White House Blueprint and pass critical legislation like my Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act.”

The Office of the Vice President revealed the Blueprint on Friday during an event on maternal health, in which Underwood met with northern Illinois families and maternity care and service providers to discuss how they can work together to advance policies that address the country’s maternal health crisis. The United States has the highest rate of pregnancy-related mortality of any high-income country and the majority of these deaths are preventable. There are significant racial and ethnic disparities in outcomes: the maternal mortality rates for Black and Native American communities are two to four times higher than the rate for white Americans. 

The report presents the Administration’s vision for the future: the United States as the best country in the world to have a baby. To accomplish this vision, the Administration prioritizes five goals:

  • Increase access to and coverage of comprehensive high-quality maternal health services
  • Ensure those giving birth are heard and are decisionmakers in accountable systems of care
  • Advance data collection, standardization, harmonization, transparency, and research
  • Expand and diversify the perinatal workforce
  • Strengthen economic and social supports for people before, during, and after pregnancy

The report can be viewed here.

Underwood is a co-founder and co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. Underwood authored the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, introduced in 2020 and re-introduced in 2021. The Momnibus builds on existing maternal health legislation with 12 bills to comprehensively address the drivers of the maternal health crisis. The Momnibus makes critical investments in addressing social determinants of health, funding community-based organizations, growing and diversifying the perinatal workforce, and improving data collection processes. Every eligible provision of the Momnibus was included in the Build Back Better Act, which passed the House on November 19, 2021.