California Gov. Newsom Signs ‘Momnibus’ Act to Tackle Racial Disparities in Maternal Health

On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 65, the California Momnibus Act, designed to improve maternal and infant outcomes – particularly for families of color.

Authored by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) with support from maternal health and racial justice groups across the state, the bill will improve research and data collection on racial and socio-economic factors that contribute to higher rates of maternal and infant mortality in communities of color.

“Every individual deserves to have a healthy pregnancy and birth, and this bill will help make this a reality for more California families,” said Governor Newsom. “It is unacceptable that the maternal and infant mortality rate among Black and Indigenous communities remains significantly higher than the state average. California is committed to tackling discrimination and disparity whenever and wherever it occurs and with today’s signing, we’re doubling down on our commitment to both reproductive and racial justice.”

The “Momnibus” Act will grant free health insurance for up to one year after pregnancy and provide trained doulas through the state’s Medicaid program.

In addition, California has designated $35 million to fund programs that offer low-income expectant mothers monthly cash assistance.

The law was established in response to alarming statistics showing that from 2014 to 2016, Black women were six times more likely to die within the first year after giving birth than white women, and they had a higher death rate than Black women nationally from 2014 to 2017.

“Gov. Newsom’s signing SB 65, the California Momnibus Act, represents a significant victory for Black maternal and infant health. Despite our medical advances, more U.S. babies and mothers die during birth than in all other high-income countries, and these preventable deaths are disproportionately higher for black families,” said Senator Skinner, who is the principal author of SB 65 and vice-chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus. “With the enactment of SB 65, California will help close racial disparities in maternal and infant deaths and save lives.”

Congress is considering a federal “Momnibus” bill.

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