Senate Democrats highlight Black maternal health care stories amid confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett

In emails to TheGrio, senators expressed concern over Obamacare's future with Barrett on the high court.

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Democrats U.S. senators are sharing stories of African American moms who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The lawmakers are hoping to bring attention to the tens of millions of people ensured under former President Barack Obama’s signature piece of legislation, which could be overturned by the Supreme Court when Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed. 

Significantly, Black maternal health could be most at risk if the ACA is struck down. 

A vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, shown testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of her confirmation hearing, is slated to take place on Monday. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)

In an email exclusive to TheGrio, several Democratic senators expressed concern over Obamacare’s future.

“Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court is a severe threat to the ACA – and a significant risk to worsening the disparities seen in maternal health,” writes Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal. 

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“We must be working to find comprehensive solutions to address the Black maternal health crisis facing this country, not nominating radical judges looking to potentially strip health care from those who need it most,” Blumenthal opines. “There should be no exceptions, no disparities when it comes to maternal health. Every parent deserves access to the quality, affordable care and support they need to have a healthy pregnancy, birth and baby.”

According to HealthInsurance.org, “before Obamacare made coverage guaranteed issue, pregnancy itself was also considered a pre-existing condition that would prevent an expectant parent — male or female — from obtaining coverage in all but five states.”

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The MOMS Act reintroduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is comprised of three components aimed at reducing pregnancy complications and deaths. 

It would authorize and expand the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) Program at the Health and Human Services Department through 2023. The act would create a grant program to help states and hospitals implement maternal safety best practices. Lastly, it would improve reporting on pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated deaths and complications.

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Gillibrand, a former Democratic presidential nominee, wrote that the MOMS Act is necessary to “address racial disparities in maternal health and provide resources to health providers to prevent these complications from happening before, during and after childbirth.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that “wide racial/ethnic gaps exist between non-Hispanic black (37.1 per 100,000 live births), non-Hispanic white (14.7), and Hispanic (11.8) women, which is consistent with earlier data.” 

That means a Black woman is twice as likely to die in childbirth than a White woman. 

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“There is so much work to be done to keep Black mothers and babies safe, and fighting to keep the Affordable Care Act in place is one important piece,” Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow writes. “The Affordable Care Act provides millions of mothers quality health insurance and prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to pregnant women or charging them more for basic health care. If the Supreme Court eliminates these protections, Black moms and babies will be disproportionately affected. And that is totally unacceptable!”

A vote to confirm Barrett to the United States Supreme Court is slated to take place on Monday, Oct. 26. Experts say her confirmation is all but inevitable. 

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