MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Today, State Senator LaTonya Johnson, Dr. Kristin Lyerly, M.D., and Ms. Yolanda Thomas joined Protect Our Care Wisconsin to discuss how Congress has a real opportunity to improve the health of moms and children in Wisconsin and across the country through bipartisan, affordable, and commonsense solutions. A new Public Policy Polling survey finds overwhelming public support for a series of reforms that will improve the health of millions of children, pregnant women, and moms, particularly people of color and rural Americans. 

The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate of any industrialized country and 80 percent of deaths are entirely preventable. The burden of this crisis disproportionately falls on people of color and rural Americans. Now, Congress has a critical opportunity to address maternal mortality and save lives. Speakers called on Congress to pass the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, which addresses key and preventable elements of the maternal health crisis, including addressing the social determinants of health contributing to maternal mortality, strengthening the perinatal workforce, and providing health care workers with the tools and training necessary to confront discriminatory and biased practices. 

State Senator LaTonya Johnson praised U.S. Representative Gwen Moore for her leadership on those issues. Recently, Moore was part of a group of more than 100 federal lawmakers who urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Schumer to include the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act in the year end legislation.

“I want to thank Congresswoman Moore for being at the forefront of such an extremely, extremely, important issues,” said State Senator LaTonya Johnson. “No child deserves to not have the medical resources necessary just to ensure that they are able to enjoy a safe and healthy life.”

Additionally, speakers highlighted the importance of protecting and strengthening Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to ensure mothers and children in Wisconsin receive the health care needed to thrive. To do this, Congress should require 12 months of Medicaid coverage for moms, guarantee 12 months of coverage in Medicaid and CHIP for children, and permanently reauthorize CHIP funding.

Ms. Yolanda Thomas has been raising her granddaughter since she was 3 years old. Without the Children’s Health Insurance Program she doubts her granddaughter would be the thriving, healthy student-athlete she is today. “I think how devastating it would be to have incurred medical bills (I couldn’t afford),” said Thomas. “I wouldn’t have the bright spirited athlete she is today if she were not monitored, supported and repaired at times as provided by the chip program.”

A member of the American Council of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG), Dr. Kristin Lyerly, M.D. noted the overwhelming public support for provisions that protect health care for moms and their children as she urged their inclusion in the year end legislation pending before Congress.

“This is not a partisan issue. This is a human issue that affects our most vulnerable family members, friends, and neighbors,” said Dr. Lyerly. “As a physician who has dedicated my life to taking care of moms and babies, I am literally pleading with our leaders in Congress to do the same.”

Learn more about how Congress can strengthen coverage for children, moms, and everyone on Medicaid and CHIP in Wisconsin here

A recording of the event can be viewed here.

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