Collins’ Protecting Moms Who Served Act signed into law by Biden

President Joe Biden on Nov. 30 signed into law bipartisan legislation co-authored by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to address the maternal mortality crisis among America’s female military veterans.

“Now that our bill has been signed into law,” Sen. Collins said on Tuesday, “the U.S. can help ensure that the brave women who have served in our military receive the maternal care they have earned.”

The Protecting Moms Who Served Act of 2021, S. 796, which Sen. Collins (R-ME) cosponsored on March 17 with bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), aims to help improve maternal healthcare at facilities operated and run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), particularly among women of color, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Collins’ office.

“Providing support to our veterans and those who serve today is among our greatest obligations. The U.S. has an unacceptably high maternal mortality rate with stark racial disparities, and the impact of this crisis on women veterans is not well understood,” said Sen. Collins. “This legislation Senator Duckworth and I partnered on will help examine ways to improve care coordination, identify gaps in coverage, and eliminate racial disparities.”

The new law will commission the first-ever comprehensive study on the scope of America’s maternal health crisis among women veterans — with a focus on racial and ethnic disparities on maternal health outcomes — and will support maternal care coordination programs at VA facilities, according to the bill summary.

Additionally, the new law will invest $15 million in maternity care coordination programs at VA facilities that ensure effective coordination between VA facilities and non-VA facilities in the delivery of maternity care and other healthcare services; facilitate access and referrals to resources in the community to address social determinants of health; identify mental and behavioral health risk factors in the prenatal and postpartum periods; and offer childbirth preparation classes, parenting classes, nutrition counselling, breastfeeding support, lactation classes, and breast pumps, the summary says.

Sen. Collins’ bill is a related bill to H.R. 958, which U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Lauren Underwood (D-IL) introduced in February. The measure received endorsements from more than 150 organizations.