Press Release

Senator Gillibrand Stands With Long Island Leaders Calling For Nearly $180 Million To Address Nation’s Maternal Mortality And Maternal Mental Health Crisis

Aug 31, 2023

Maternal Mortality Rate In Suffolk County Is 15% Higher Than The New York State Average;

Black Non-Hispanic Women in the United States Are Up To 3 Times As Likely To Die From Pregnancy-Related Complications

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stood at the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island calling for legislation and nearly $180 million in federal funding to address the nation’s maternal mortality and maternal mental health crisis. The United States continues to have the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world, driven in large part by the high mortality rates among women of color. Gillibrand’s approach would support mothers at every step of their maternal health care journey and help address racial disparities in maternal health by awarding grants to grow and diversify the maternal health workforce and working to eliminate racial bias in maternal care. Senator Gillibrand was joined by President and CEO of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island Rebecca Sanin, President and CEO of Harmony Healthcare Long Island David Nemiroff, and Birth Justice Warriors founders Dr. Martine Hackett and Dr. Nellie Taylor Walthrust.

“More people in the United States die from pregnancy-related complications than in any of our peer countries – this is outrageous and downright shameful. We must do more to support and listen to women and pregnant people at every step of their maternal health journey,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I’m fighting to include nearly $180 million in the end-of-year spending bill to help implement evidence-based health care standards for all women, no matter their race or ethnicity. I’m also pushing to pass the Moms Matter Act to provide critical mental health and substance use disorder support to pregnant people and moms. I will never stop fighting to ensure every mother is heard and gets high-quality health care — no matter their race, socioeconomic status, or zip code.”  

“The Mom’s Matter Act will provide desperately needed resources to support the mental health and well-being of new mothers that historically face systemic barriers to accessing services. Addressing the disparities in health access and outcomes is a vital priority that impacts the psychological well-being of families and the social and economic well-being of communities. Senator Gillibrand’s leadership on supporting new mothers will create a legacy of healthier families, communities, schools and society.” – Rebecca Sanin, President/CEO of the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island

“The Moms Matter Act would provide much needed support to address the issue of maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders in the United States and right here in Nassau County. Nassau County’s overall maternal mortality rate in is higher than it is in neighboring Queens, not something we would expect in a high income and highly taxed suburb. And Black women in Nassau County and around the country are disproportionately affected by maternal deaths and near deaths, dying three times more than white women. These statistics are why we started Birth Justice Warriors, an organization dedicated to making this injustice visible by working with community members, community based organizations, health systems, and legislators to ensure that every mother receives respectful and responsive care during pregnancy, delivery and the postpartum period in Nassau County.” – Rev. Dr. Nellie Taylor Walthrust and Martine Hackett, co-founders of Birth Justice Warriors

Senator Gillibrand’s Moms Matter Act would establish two grant programs to support moms with maternal mental health conditions or substance use disorders by investing in community-based programs that provide mental and behavioral health treatments. Additionally, the bill would provide funding for programs to grow and diversify the maternal mental and behavioral health care workforce in an effort to ensure quality, culturally competent health care. 

For more information on the bill, please click here.

Ahead of final negotiations for the FY24 appropriations package, Senator Gillibrand is calling on Senate Appropriations Committee leaders to include $164 million for the Safe Motherhood and Infant Health Program, which will boost the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) ability to provide assistance to state Maternal Mortality Review Committees in their data collection efforts.

Senator Gillibrand is also pushing for $15 million in federal funding for the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM), a program that works with states and hospital systems to implement toolkits to improve maternal outcomes. AIM works on a range of maternal safety topics, including obstetric hemorrhage, severe hypertension in pregnancy, maternal mental health, obstetric care for women with opioid use disorder, and education on peripartum racial and ethnic disparities.

For the full letter, please click here.

Senator Gillibrand is a relentless champion for the health and rights of mothers and their families. Gillibrand fought for and successfully established a National Maternal Mental Health Hotline, which provides free, confidential, 24/7 support to pregnant and postpartum women facing mental health challenges. Counselors are available by text and phone in English and Spanish and have access to interpreter services that can support 60 other languages.

The hotline can be reached at 1-833-943-5746 (1-833-9-HELP4MOMS). More information is available here.  

Gillibrand also supports the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, which includes her Moms Matter Act. She leads the Modernizing Obstetric Medicine Standards (MOMS) Act, which would develop standardized maternal safety best practices to prevent maternal mortality and morbidity and provide hospitals with the resources to help prevent maternal death and complications before, during, and after childbirth. Gillibrand also secured $17 million in maternal health care funding in the bipartisan FY2021 appropriations package and an additional $42 million in the FY2023 funding package. Gillibrand has also taken action to address Black maternal mortality and eliminate racial bias in maternal care by advocating for federal funding for evidence-based training programs to reduce implicit bias in maternal health care delivery.