Bill provides funding for veteran maternity care
Congressman Brian Higgins announced the approval of the Protecting Moms Who Served Act of 2021 (S.796). The bipartisan bill, originally introduced by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), an Iraq War veteran, supports funding for maternity care for women who served in the military.
“The Department of Veteran Affairs provides critical benefits to ensure that veterans have access to medical care during pregnancy and after their child is born,” Higgins said. “This legislation guarantees that veteran mothers’ unique physical and mental maternal health care is better understood and treated by health care providers.
This legislation requires the Department of Veteran Affairs to implement the maternity care coordination program, which provides community maternity care providers with training and support to better address the specific needs of pregnant and postpartum veterans. The program focuses on mental and behavioral health conditions among military veterans.
The bill authorizes $15 million in additional program funding for fiscal year 2022, providing support for veterans navigating maternity care services offered by the VA, as well as private health care providers.
Additionally, this legislation will produce the first comprehensive study on maternal health outcomes among veterans. It requires the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress within two years regarding maternal mortality and health conditions among pregnant and postpartum veterans, specifically focusing on disparities among minority veterans. The report will make recommendations for improving health outcomes, improving access to behavioral and mental health care, addressing social determinants of health, educating providers, and reducing mortality and morbidity.
More than 150 organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, NAACP, Women Veterans Interactive, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and the Wounded Warrior Project, support this measure.
The Senate passed the bill unanimously on Oct. 7. It now moves to the president’s desk.