Press Release

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

Sep 8, 2023

Maternal Mortality Rate In Monroe County Is 56% 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 Center for Gynecological Care & Wellness at Trillium Health in Rochester 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 Trillium Health President and CEO Jason Barnecut-Kearns, Pathway Pediatrics Medical Director Dr. Karina Vattana, State Senator Samra Brouk, and Assemblymember Demond Meeks.

“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.”  

“At Trillium Health, we’re proud to serve everyone who walks through our doors, regardless of their ability to pay. We know that health disparities exist within our community, and it will take a coordinated effort to address longstanding inequities – especially among Black and Latino communities in Rochester. We applaud Senator Gillibrand’s legislation, which would promote health equity by investing in much-needed programs to support mothers with mental health conditions and substance use disorders. It would also support critical efforts to diversify the healthcare workforce. The Moms Matter Act represents a significant step toward creating a more inclusive and equitable healthcare system, and we urge Congress to pass this legislation.”Jason Barnecut-Kearns, President and CEO, Trillium Health

“As a physician, I’m concerned that hundreds of people across the United States die during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth, every single year. Racial disparities exist; Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related causes than White women. This is unacceptable. Everyone deserves access to high quality, affordable healthcare. The Moms Matter Act would provide critical resources to address health inequities in communities of color. By prioritizing the needs of mothers, this legislation not only promotes healthier pregnancies and childbirth experiences, but also contributes to the overall well-being of their children, families and communities.” Dr. Karina Vattana, Medical Director of Pathway Pediatrics

“I want to thank Senator Gillibrand for her leadership in making the United States a safer place to become a mother. Maternal mental health conditions are the most commonly occurring pregnancy complication and the third leading cause of maternal death. Black women are twice as likely to be affected and only half as likely to receive proper treatment. In New York we have addressed this issue through the creation of a statewide Maternal Mental Health Workgroup and by seeking to improve postpartum depression screenings. Senator Gillibrand is a crucial partner in this work at the federal level. The Moms Matter Act is historic legislation that will ensure that those providing maternal mental health care receive the funding and support they need. I’m grateful to have Senator Gillibrand as a partner in this life saving work —together, we can take steps to ensure that every birthing person in New York and beyond receives the care and treatment they deserve.” Senator Samra Brouk, 55th District

“Every mother and every child deserve safety, equity of care, and kindness. The Moms Matter Act, with its focus on mental health care and substance use disorder, is diversifying our maternal health care responses to address long overdue equity and social justice needs. This legislation will have a profound impact in the City of Rochester where Black maternal mortality exceeds the national average. Thank you, Senator Gillibrand, for your hard work to pass these bipartisan, comprehensive reforms.” – Assemblymember Harry Bronson, 138th District

“As the protections that Roe once provided for women across the country fall apart in other states, there has never been a more critical need to address the maternal mortality rates and maternal mental health in the United States. If women are going to be limited in bodily autonomy, we must do better to provide the care necessary for mothers to survive birth and postpartum. Compared to other countries, our treatment of mothers during and after birth is abysmal, and I am proud to stand with Senator Gillibrand as she sends a message to the country that moms matter.” Assemblywoman Jennifer Lunsford

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.