Murray Increases Investments in Fight Against Maternal Mortality, Will Continue Efforts to Improve Maternal Health

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, released the following statement on the increased funding to address maternal mortality she fought to include in the end-of-year spending bill which passed the Senate today.

“It’s a tragedy that we have the highest maternal death rate in the developed world, and an outrage that this crisis not only exists, but is even worse for women of color—with Black women more than three times more likely to die as a result of pregnancy. While we were able to push for and win increased investments in stopping this crisis, I’m frustrated that other bipartisan steps were not included in this package and I will keep fighting to get them over the finish line.

“For example, we need to make sure medical professionals receive bias training in order to combat differences in quality of care—something we know is important to help Black women and other women of color get quality care, as studies suggest they often aren’t trusted about their own levels of pain or their symptoms. We also need to improve maternal care and access in rural communities where it is too often lacking. It’s critical we collect more data so we can better understand and tackle this problem across demographics as well.

“None of these steps are one bit controversial—in fact, they’ve already received strong bipartisan support. I’m frustrated that Republicans once again listened to their far-right special interest groups rather than women and I’m going to keep working to get these policies signed into law.”

In the end-of-year spending bill, Senator Murray secured $62 million at HRSA and the CDC for an initiative aimed at reducing the nation’s alarmingly high maternal mortality rate—an increase of $9 million from Fiscal Year 2020. This will fund stronger data systems to improve surveillance and help expand programs that are proven to be successful at reducing maternal mortality. In addition, Senator Murray secured $975 million for maternal and child health programs, an increase of $32 million, including the state formula grants, Healthy Start and a new Maternal Mental Health Hotline to support screening and referral to treatment for postpartum depression and related maternal mental health challenges.

Senator Murray is also continuing to push for passage of bipartisan provisions to address maternal mortality first included in the Lower Health Care Costs Act which passed out of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in July 2019 20-3. Talks to include the provisions in the end-of-year spending bill fell apart when Republicans asked for poison pill changes to language that has been agreed upon for over year.