Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) re-introduced her Maternal CARE Act this week. First introduced in 2018, the bill aims to demolish racial bias in healthcare for Black mothers. The bill comes at a critical time with celebrities like Serena Williams sharing cautionary tales of not being heard by doctors and nurses during birth and postpartum.
This is important information because Black women in the United States are three to four times more likely to experience maternal death than their white counterparts.
The legislation seeks to achieve several goals, including:
• Create a new $25 million program to fight racial bias in maternal health care. The new grant program will be directed to medical schools, nursing schools, and other health professional training programs to support evidence-based implicit training that will improve care for Black women by reducing bias in judgment or behavior resulting from implicit attitudes or stereotypes.
• Allocate $125 million to identify high-risk pregnancies, and provide mothers with the culturally competent care and resources they need. The new grant program will help states implement pregnancy medical home demonstration projects to develop and carry out pregnancy medical home (PMH) programs. These programs improve care by incentivizing maternal health care providers to deliver integrated health care services to pregnant women and new mothers and reduce adverse maternal health outcomes, maternal deaths, and racial health disparities in maternal mortality and morbidity.
• Help medical schools incorporate bias recognition in clinical skills testing by directing the National Academy of Medicine to study and make recommendations.
Sen. Harris sent a remark about the bill to theGrio:
“Black mothers across the country are facing a health crisis that is driven in part by implicit bias in our health care system. We must take action to address this issue, and we must do it with the sense of urgency it deserves. My Maternal CARE Act will establish implicit bias training throughout the medical profession and help ensure that women—especially Black women—have access to comprehensive, culturally competent care.”
Congresswoman Alma Adams, founder and co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, also had a few words about Harris’ bill:
“We cannot address the black maternal health crisis facing this country until we address racial disparities in healthcare. The Maternal CARE Act will confront the persistent biases in our health system to ensure Black women have equal access to the quality pre – and post-natal care they deserve. I thank Senator Harris for her leadership in the Senate and look forward to continuing to work together to address this public health crisis.”