U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood’s bill to address the nation’s maternal mortality crisis passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week.
Underwood, D-Naperville, was part of the bipartisan group which introduced the Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services Act, H.R. 4996.
The bill’s supporters argued that it would help address the county’s “alarmingly high” maternal mortality rates, according to a news release.
The legislation would allow states to extend Medicaid coverage for new mothers through the entire postpartum period.
Medicaid only covers women for two months after birth.
Underwood argued that since Medicaid pays for nearly half of all births in the U.S., lawmakers needed to work to lower the country’s maternal mortality rates.
“The bipartisan Helping MOMS Act is a historic step toward ensuring every mother in America has health coverage after giving birth, which will save lives and improve maternal outcomes,” Underwood said in the release.
About 700 women die every year in the U.S. as a result of pregnancy-related complications, and the majority of those deaths occur after the day of delivery, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Underwood also said that the problem especially affects black mothers.
Underwood said she’s been working to raise awareness of the issue with the launching of the Black Maternal Health Caucus earlier this year.