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Delaware House Democrats

Delaware Mombinus Addresses Health Inequities in Vulnerable Communities

September 29, 2022

By Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown and Sen. Marie Pinkney

In 2020, Delaware like many other states witnessed firsthand how the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated health inequities in vulnerable communities, especially among minority groups and seniors.

We are very much aware of how health problems are traditionally linked to genetics and the environment. However, as legislators, we also understand how policy action and inaction can negatively influence the health of residents, as well.

One issue that hits close to home is Black maternal health.

It’s alarming that Black women in the United States are more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than women in any other race group, including Delaware. Unfortunately, the heightened risk of pregnancy-related death for Black women spans income and education levels. We have witnessed this firsthand and have experienced less than adequate treatment.

Another sad reality is Delaware is also ranked 28th in the nation for infant mortality, with the Black babies dying at a rate three times higher than White babies. To address this crisis affecting both Black mothers and their children, we drafted and sponsored the 2022 Delaware Momnibus, a series of six bills designed to support mothers throughout their pregnancies and post-partum.

The first step is through HB 344, which develops bias and competency training for healthcare workers and requires the Delaware Perinatal Quality Collaborative to create training guidelines for health professionals.

Two bills, HB 343 and HB 234, expand Medicaid access to include doula services, and extend Medicaid coverage throughout the first year of postpartum, improving the well-being of mothers and infants in need of consistent care.

The Delaware Momnibus also provides care for incarcerated women through two bills. One is HB 342, which prohibits the use of restraints on women in their second and third trimester, and in the 13-week immediate postpartum period. The second, HB 345, provides access to doula services for pregnant and postpartum women in custody.

Finally, one bill requires the Child and Maternal Death Review Commission, formerly known as the Child Death Review Commission, to take a closer look and present recommendations to improve maternal and infant mortality, health problems that result from being pregnant and giving birth, as well as racial disparities.

Legislators, healthcare professionals, and community members can all play a part in bringing about positive change. Some of the things we can all do to implement change:

  • Public policy and connecting with legislators through letters or phone calls.
  • Organize events and drives to reach vulnerable communities.
  • Advocate and educate people about social determinants.

We are committed to addressing healthcare inequities and eliminating discrimination in all forms. Although there is a great deal of work to be done, we are taking steps in the right direction.

We must continue to prioritize policies and continue to confront Black maternal health disparities in order to eliminate all forms of discrimination in healthcare.

Too many lives are at stake — and we cannot afford to rest.

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