“All people deserve to have the same standards of maternity coverage and care. Now is the time for action.”
Executive Director Emily Stewart

For Immediate Release
April 11, 2023
Contact: Meghan Farrell, mfarrell@communitycatalyst.org, (508) 423-5185

BOSTON, MA — Today marks the beginning of Black Maternal Health Week, an annual public health campaign founded and led by the Black Mama’s Matter Alliance. This year’s theme, Our Bodies Belong to Us: Restoring Black Autonomy and Joy, speaks to the “strength, power and resilience of Black mamas” who have always been on the front lines of their communities and movements for change. As part of the Black Maternal Health Federal Policy Collective, Community Catalyst and partners are working together to build community power to protect access to and shape equitable maternal health care policies. 

Statement from Emily Stewart, Executive Director of Community Catalyst:

“We proudly support Black Maternal Health Week as we believe in building power by centering the lived experience and expertise of those who have been unfairly discriminated against due to structural racism and other forms of oppression.

“Black women, people, and communities continue to bear the weight of an unjust health system, and this harms us all. Together, we must unite in a shared vision for progress, one that addresses the root causes of harm and advances policy solutions that center race equity and health justice. 

“One immediate way the Biden administration can support Black maternal health is by setting a national standard for reproductive and postpartum coverage and care. This simple yet important fix to essential health benefits coverage can begin to address the Black maternal health crisis in America. All people deserve to have the same standards of coverage and care. Now is the time for action.

“In states across the country and in Congress, policymakers can improve health outcomes and reduce racial disparities by mandating Medicaid coverage for one year postpartum and expanding coverage for midwifery and doula care. We are also calling for passage of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act and are working with state and community partners to ensure that the expansion of care does not come at the expense of abortion rights and bodily autonomy.” 

Community Catalyst is a member of the Black Maternal Health Federal Policy Collective, which also includes members from Ancient Song, Black Mama’s Matter Alliance, Center for Reproductive Rights, The Century Foundation, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, Mamatoto Village, National Partnership for Women and Families, and the National WIC Association.

Additional Information

Black women, people, and communities have been organizing for Black maternal health for decades. Still, they are forced to reckon with high maternal mortality and uninsured rates, attacks on their reproductive rights and bodily autonomy, medical racism and neglect in care in hospital systems.

  • Based on systemic racism and disparities in health care, the maternal mortality rate for Black women is 3 times the rate for white women in the United States.  
  • At least one third of maternal deaths happen after the end of pregnancy, during the vulnerable postpartum year. Nearly one-quarter of maternal deaths happen more than six weeks postpartum, a period when new mothers can face a range of medical challenges, such as pregnancy-related complications, chronic conditions, or postpartum depression, all while caring for a newborn.   
  • The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 gave states a new option to extend Medicaid postpartum coverage from 60 days to 12 months, a proven strategy to address the maternal health crisis. Currently, 39 states plus DC have implemented or plan to implement the extension.  
  • The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act includes historic policies and investments in Black mothers and birthing people, families, and systems of care. The Momnibus invests in community-based organizations, addresses social determinants of health and the effects of climate change, supports maternal mental health equity, and more.
  • Community Catalyst is urging HHS to advance health equity by requiring  that Essential Health Benefits cover the top clinical guidelines in each benefit category, setting a national standard for maternity care. A 2021 review found extensive differences across state plans, including limits on how many prenatal and delivery services were covered, as well as inequitable postpartum benefits. Updating EHB standards for maternity care should be responsive to the calls of reproductive health, rights, and justice advocates who have highlighted the types of change needed to address the maternity health crisis in our country.


About Community Catalyst:

Community Catalyst is a leading non-profit national health advocacy organization dedicated to advancing a movement for race equity and health justice. We partner with local, state and national advocates to leverage and build power so all people can influence decisions that affect their health. Health systems will not be accountable to people without a fully engaged and organized community voice. That’s why we work every day to ensure people’s interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and health care are made: in communities, state houses and on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit http://www.communitycatalyst.org. Follow us on Twitter @CommCatHealth