PBMHC co-chairs introduce Pennsylvania’s Momnibus legislative package

HARRISBURG, March 19 – To address disparities in health care, co-chairs of the Pennsylvania Black Maternal Health Caucus Reps. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila.; Gina H. Curry, D-Delaware; and La’Tasha D. Mayes, D-Allegheny, and caucus members introduced the Momnibus legislative package, which outlines a group of bills to decrease maternal morbidity and mortality in Pennsylvania.

The bills would:

  • Require health-related boards within the Department of State to complete implicit bias training as part of continuing education requirements.
  • Extend Medicaid coverage to doula services, as well as establish the Doula Advisory Board to set standards and requirements for doulas.
  • Require health insurance to cover doula services.
  • Require health insurance to cover blood pressure monitors for pregnant and postpartum enrollees.
  • Expand Medicaid coverage of blood pressure monitors for pregnant and postpartum enrollees.
  • Designate maternal health deserts to target investments in maternal health care services.
  • Enhance access to mental health services for pregnant or postpartum patients.
  • Establish a program to distribute essential resources to new mothers.

“Our Momnibus package is the culmination of years of work to address the critical issues surrounding maternal health and well-being,” Cephas said. “These core areas of increasing access to care, eliminating maternal health deserts, and addressing social determinants of health, guide our focus in this comprehensive platform. This caucus has done an amazing job of developing a multi-pronged approach to achieve health and maternal care equity for birthing people across the state no matter where they live.”

Curry said, “When my co-chairs Reps. Cephas, Mayes, and I created the PA Black Maternal Health Caucus back in October 2023, we knew we had no time to wait before we sprinted into action. In my district and all across the commonwealth, women have become victims of health care system closures. These closures have created an alarmingly increasing problem of maternal health deserts. Nineteen counties in Pennsylvania have hospitals that don’t provide obstetric services and don’t have accredited freestanding birth centers. Thirty-one counties don’t have a Newborn Intensive Care Unit. This is a horrifying reality and one that we want to change now. 

“The Momnibus legislation does many things, but most importantly, it will bring forth into motion the beginning stages of good legislation that will prevent Black mommas and birthing folks and all mommas throughout the commonwealth from dying and create a Pennsylvania where the birthing journey will bring joy and healthy live birthing experiences, leading to happier and healthier children, mothers, families and communities for generations to come. When we actively address the devastation that has created fear and destroyed hope around Black maternal health, we are addressing the restoration of hope in the birthing experiences that are yet to come.”

Mayes said: “Prior to the birth of my daughter Charlotte, up until my partner Heather and I were admitted to the hospital, I worried about my partner’s health, especially as Black patients are at the highest risk for maternal mortality and morbidity and we were grateful to welcome our child into the world. This underlying fear that I felt is rooted in dangerous medical assumptions about Black bodies and implicit biases that put patients at risk, especially pregnant Black women. We must address these race-based and gender-based disparities to ensure health care is equitable for all moms, birthing people and all Pennsylvanians. Thanks to my co-chairs and members of the PBMHC, the Pennsylvania Momnibus package represents the groundbreaking opportunity to pass legislation that boldly addresses the maternal health care crisis in our commonwealth, reduces maternal morbidity and mortality, and ensures pregnant and postpartum patients have access to critical resources.”

The co-chairs, as well as Reps. Lisa Borowski, D-Delaware, Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Phila., and Mandy Steele, D-Allegheny, modeled Pennsylvania’s Momnibus legislation after federal bills introduced by U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Illinois, and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey.

The news conference can be viewed here or above.

A gallery of downloadable photos from the event is available here.


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