‘Momnibus’ bill to help Kentucky maternal health introduced in House
Legislation comes from bipartisan summer working group
Rep. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill, introduced legislation dubbed “Momnibus” that is aimed at helping mothers in the state. (Photo provided)
FRANKFORT — The “Momnibus” legislation introduced Wednesday in the Kentucky legislature grew out of an informal working group of Republican and Democratic women lawmakers who met throughout the summer.
The bipartisan, 40-page House Bill 10, introduced by Rep. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill, is intended to support mothers through their pregnancy, through delivery and through the postpartum period in several ways. The bill’s supporters have titled it the Save Kentucky Mom Act.
“Addressing Kentucky’s high maternal mortality rate and saving mothers and babies is obviously a priority for all of us,” said Moser, a former neonatal intensive care nurse and mother of five.
“I’ve really worked with mothers and babies and sick newborns, in their newborn phase, oftentimes through their first year, and I was able to really see some of the reasons for poor health disparities, especially in our poor areas of our state,” Moser said. “That greatly informs my interest, my experience, my expertise in this area.”
A 2023 March of Dimes report showed the state once again had dismal maternal mortality, which was worse for Black Kentuckians. The state has a maternal mortality rate of 38.4 deaths per 100,000 live births, higher than the national rate of 23.5 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Slightly more than 14% of Kentuckians lack access to adequate prenatal care as well, per March of Dimes. Dr. Jeffrey M. Goldberg, the legislative advocacy chair for the Kentucky chapter of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), told a Senate committee in 2023 that more than 90% of the state’s maternal deaths are preventable.
Citing advocacy group Every Mother Counts, Moser said Wednesday: “The leading causes of maternal death in the U.S. (are) lack of access to health care, including a shortage of caregivers, a lack of insurance, inadequate postpartum supports and certainly socio economic disparities, including the stress of racism and discrimination.”
Other Kentucky-specific health conditions like heart disease and diabetes, Moser added, add to the problem. HB10 would:
- Add pregnancy to the list of qualifying life events for the purpose of health insurance coverage, which could incentivise Kentuckians to seek prenatal care.
- Provides mental health consultation and access to care through the Lifeline for Moms Psychiatry Access Program. Kentucky has received a $750,000 grant to start this program, but Moser said she will also make a budget request “to make sure that’s a sustainable program.” This line must employ at least a psychiatrist, the bill states, and must operate a hotline from 8-5, Monday through Friday that Kentuckian providers can call and get immediate consultations and expedited face-to-face mental health care for those who need it.
- Expands the HANDS program to include lactation counseling and assistance, education on safe sleep, and research on the role of doulas in the birth experience. HANDS is a voluntary home visitation program for new or expectant parents. Services can begin during pregnancy and extend until the child is three years old. This bill would expand HANDS to include telehealth, which Moser said she believes will help “reach moms in underserved areas or areas where she may have a transportation issue.”
- Strengthens an existing advisory council to provide ongoing policy guidance to increase collaboration, improve data collection, and suggest additional improvements.
This story may update. An earlier version of this story misstated that the hotline would serve the general public.
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