$15 Million Bill Signed to Protect Veteran Birthing Parents of Color

Joelle Y. Jean, FNP-C, BSN, RN
Updated September 30, 2022
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    A recent law helps protect the maternal health of mothers and birthing parents who are also veterans. Find out more about the new law and how you can lend your support.
    Featured ImageCredit: Getty Images

    On Nov. 30, 2021, President Biden signed a bill protecting the maternal health of Black mothers and birthing parents who are also veterans. Fifteen million dollars will fund programs and research studies at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

    These initiatives will help combat maternal mortality and morbidity of veteran women and birthing parents of color, where the rate of pregnancy-related deaths is nearly double the national rate.

    The maternal health of women, especially those of color, in the United States is a dire situation. It is a crisis the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act is trying to combat. The Momnibus bill was created to protect and support maternal care for all women, but especially women of color.

    The State of Maternal Health in the United States

    • Black, Indigenous Americans, and Alaska Native women are nearly three times more likely to die from complications from pregnancy than white women.
    • To date, 3 in 5 pregnancy-related deaths could have beeen prevented with proper support and education focusing on prenatal and postpartum care.
    • Women living in rural communities are at increased risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes or death.
    • Lower-income women are also at higher risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes or death.

    Impact of Maternal Health of Veteran Women of Color

    Little was known about the maternal health of veteran women before a recent project by the VA. The report reveals pregnancy-related deaths among veteran women are nearly double the national rate. The majority of these veteran women also:

    • Have higher rates of chronic mental and health conditions
    • Are between the ages of 18-45 years of age
    • Are not white
    • Live in rural communities (25%)

    According to the Journal of Women’s Health, Black women make up over 30% of all veterans receiving healthcare from the VA. Black women are the fastest-growing group of VA healthcare users, and the VA expects the rate of Black women using the maternal care benefits to increase.

    The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act highlights the disparities in the maternal health of veteran women of color in comparison to their white counterparts. The bill’s signing will aid in further supporting the project and documenting risk patterns from vulnerable groups. The goal is for veterans to have healthier pregnancies and prevent pregnancy-related maternal death.

    The Future of the Momnibus Act 2021

    The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act 2021 has 12 titles. As stated on the Black Maternal Health Caucus’ website, the titles “address every dimension of the maternal health crisis in America.”

    One main focus of the act is to have Medicaid cover postpartum care for up to 12 months. Medicaid covers nearly 50% of all births in the U.S. and at least two-thirds of births are from Black women.

    The future of the act includes funding for:

    • Telehealth services for pregnant individuals
    • Mental health programs and services
    • Internet access for areas in need of maternity care
    • Maternal health disparities discussed in The Build Back Better Plan

    How Nurses and Healthcare Providers Can Provide Support

    The VA is one of the largest employers of nurses in the U.S. Nurses are ideal for taking the lead on advocating and educating veteran women and birthing people about prenatal and postpartum care. They can also offer their expertise to healthcare administration and participate in policy efforts.

    To further support veteran women, nurses and healthcare providers can:

    Pregnancy-related deaths are often preventable. The bill’s signing is the first step toward improving maternity care in the U.S. among veterans.

    Page last reviewed September 20, 2022