Applauds Major Policy Improvements to Address Maternal and Children’s Health Care and Put in Place New Protections for Pregnant Workers
December 23, 2022 (Arlington, VA)— March of Dimes, the leading organization fighting for the health of all moms and babies, today responded to Congress passing an omnibus spending bill with key policy and funding priorities to strengthen maternal and infant health, and includes critical new protections for pregnant workers through the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
“We are thrilled to see the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act included in the omnibus, a bipartisan bill that would ensure that pregnant workers have the reasonable accommodations they need to work safely while having healthy pregnancies,” said Stacey Y. Brayboy, March of Dimes Senior Vice President of Public Policy & Government Affairs. “PWFA was adopted as an amendment to the omnibus thanks to the leadership and determination of its Senate sponsors Senators Bob Casey and Bill Cassidy. This tremendous policy win is the culmination of more than a decade of hard-fought efforts by the bill champions, March of Dimes and our coalition partners, and all the advocates who shared their personal stories.”
March of Dimes thanks Senators Patty Murray and Richard Burr for prioritizing the needs of pregnant workers; Senate Majority Leader Schumer for his steadfast commitment to passing this critical legislation; and the PWFA champions in the House of Representatives, Rep. Bobby Scott, long-time champion Rep. Jerry Nadler, and Rep. John Katko.
“We’re very pleased that the omnibus spending bill includes several provisions that will improve the health of moms and babies, such as making the state option to extend Medicaid postpartum coverage to 12 months permanent,” said Dr. Phyllis Dennery, March of Dimes Board Trustee, Chair of Department of Pediatrics at Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Pediatrician-in Chief at Rhode Island Hospital, and Medical Director at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. “This policy will provide certainty and incentivize more states to take advantage of this coverage option that will save new mothers’ lives. Extending Medicaid postpartum coverage is critical to lowering the nation’s alarming maternal mortality rate. Over half of pregnancy-related deaths occur between one week and one year postpartum so 12 months of continuous Medicaid eligibility removes key access barriers that often prevent new mothers from getting the care they need after childbirth. We thank all the House and Senate champions who pushed to make this policy improvement a reality.”
This effort was successful due to the work of countless advocates and organizations across the country. March of Dimes expresses its thanks to Rep. Frank Pallone and Senator Ron Wyden, Rep. Robin Kelly and Senator Dick Durbin for their leadership; Senator Cory Booker, and Rep. Lauren Underwood and Rep. Alma Adams, the co-chairs of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, for their leadership on maternal health legislation this Congress.
March of Dimes policy priorities included in the omnibus spending bill:
- The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2021- Included as part of the omnibus as an amendment on the Senate floor on a 73-24 vote. This represents a remarkable victory in addressing our nation’s maternity health crisis by establishing a national framework requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers to ensure they have healthy pregnancies.
- Postpartum Coverage Under Medicaid and CHIP: The omnibus includes a provision making permanent the state option to extend coverage from 60 days to 12 months of full benefits for eligible pregnant and postpartum women.
- Mandatory 12-month Continuous Eligibility for children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP beginning in January 2024.
- Two-Year Extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through FY 2029.
- Into the Light for Maternal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders: Provides grant funding to support and expand maternal mental health screening programs, establish a maternal mental health hotline at HHS, and establishes a maternal mental health task force with a membership of both federal and private maternal health experts.
- Jackie Walorski Maternal and Child Home Visiting Program of 2022: Reauthorizes the home visiting program through 2027 and provides $500 million in FY 23; $550 million in FY 24; $600 million in FY 25; $650 million in FY 26; and $800 million in FY 27.
- The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act: Included by amendment on a 92-5 vote in the year-end omnibus package, this legislation would strengthen the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law by expanding workplace protections for lactating workers.
March of Dimes also applauds Congress for its support of funding priorities for key maternal and infant health programs in the omnibus spending bill, including:
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): $1.749 million (increase of $66 million) to allow NICHD to sustain vital research on maternal and child health.
- Surveillance for Emerging Threats to Moms and Babies Initiative: $23 million ($10 million increase) to expand to all 50 states, territories and jurisdictions on the impact of COVID-19 and new public health threats.
- Safe Motherhood Initiative: $108 million ($25 million increase) to support expansion of Maternal Mortality Review Committees and Perinatal Quality Collaboratives to all 50 states and territories.
- Newborn Screening: $21 million for the CDC’s Quality Assurance Program ($2 million increase) and a $1 million increase for the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Heritable Disorders Program. The bill also includes $1 million to commission a study on improving practices (was originally included in the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act of 2021).
- Grants for Maternal Depression Screening and Treatment: $10 million ($3.5 million increase) to help expand this program to an additional five states for pregnant and postpartum women experiencing depression and other behavioral health conditions.
- Maternal Mental Health Hotline: $7 million (same as FY 22) which will allow qualified counselors to staff a hotline 24 hours a day and conduct outreach efforts on maternal mental health issues.
March of Dimes will continue to advocate for the following policy priorities in the 118th Congress:
Increase access to quality health care: March of Dimes advocates for access to quality, high-value, private health insurance and public health coverage, as well as programs that provide integrated health care services.
Support healthy women and babies: March of Dimes supports a broad range of policies and programs to promote health, improve health equity, prevent disease, further patient safety and prevent infant mortality. Advocating for a comprehensive national response to high maternal mortality and morbidity rates, especially among women of color who face health disparities.
Improve research and surveillance: March of Dimes advocates for innovative medical research and robust health surveillance programs, which are essential to discovering ways to prevent, diagnose and treat maternal and child health conditions, track occurrence and promote health equity.
March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every family can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 84-year legacy, we support every pregnant person and every family. To learn more about March of Dimes, please visit marchofdimes.org.