Summers joined by U.S. Senator Todd Young to address maternal mortality at the state and federal levels

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Representative Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis) and a group of stakeholders met with U.S. Senator Todd Young late Friday (Feb. 21, 2020) afternoon at the Indiana Minority Health Coalition to discuss how to address the maternal mortality crisis happening in Indiana and across the country.

 “I’m glad Senator Young reached out to me because we need his help at the federal level to drive more resources to Indiana so that we can prevent mothers from dying after giving birth, said Summers.

Summers called on Young to co-sponsor the Healthy MOMMIES Act, which is similar to her Indiana House Bill 1248, and the MOMMA Act. She also called on him to take a look at the Excellence in Maternal Health Act, which is authored by U.S. Congressman Larry Bucshon from Evansville.

“We have black mothers dying in Indiana at the same rate as mothers in countries like Iraq and Vietnam – it’s unacceptable,” Summers continued. “That’s why I created the Maternal Health Caucus and will work with anyone who wants to join me in an effort to gather the data and resources necessary to stop this crisis.”

Summers created the bipartisan Maternal Health Caucus as a call to action for members of the Indiana General Assembly to address one of Indiana’s leading health care epidemics, as the state has the third highest maternal mortality rate in the country. The caucus has a bipartisan group of 36 members, including Summers, who are ready to work together and address maternal mortality in our state.

The Maternal Health Caucus has several key objectives:

  • Raise awareness about maternal mortality.
  • Collect the data necessary to best research this issue.
  • Establish a statewide Maternal and Child Health Task Force that will address both maternal and infant mortality in high-risk areas across the state.
  • Develop a statewide postpartum plan for mothers to reference from the birth of their child through a year after giving birth.
  • Develop legislation that addresses patient safety protocols and cultural competency training for health care professionals.
  • Fund access to innovative services for low-income and minority women and infants.
  • Identify best practices for healthy outcomes for mothers and infants.
  • Mobilize the women, men and families in Indiana who are concerned about this issue.

This legislative session, Summers authored House Bill 1248, which would have provided Medicaid to eligible women for the duration of their pregnancy and for up to one year after giving birth. Unfortunately, the bill did not receive a hearing in the Public Health Committee, which is chaired by State Representative Cindy Kirchhofer (R-Beech Grove).

Summers is the coordinator of the National Diabetes Prevention Program at the Indiana Minority Health Coalition in Indianapolis. Summers began serving in the Indiana House of Representatives in 1991 and has remained dedicated to improving the maternal and infant mortality rate in Indiana, supporting children in the foster care system, and refining the prisoner re-entry program.

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