Delaware Vote Tracker

Momnibus VI – Combating Implicit Racial Bias in Maternal and Pediatric Healthcare

House and Senate Democrats have introduced a package of bills collectively referred to as the 2022 Delaware Momnibus. These bills address maternal and infant health, and specifically child and maternal mortality, doulas, incarcerated pregnant persons, and aid to new parents. We have profiled several of these bills yesterday and will be finishing up today with two more bills.

House Bill 344 would provide licensed healthcare professionals and other healthcare staff with strategies for understanding and reducing the impact of their biases in order to reduce disparate outcomes and ensure that all patients receive fair treatment and quality healthcare. The bill would require annual explicit and implicit bias training for health professionals and staff of hospitals and freestanding birthing centers.

“As a nurse and a Black woman, I am extremely aware of the maternal and infant health issues affecting Delaware families, particularly Black mothers and babies,” said Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown, the lead House sponsor. “Black women made up one of every four women giving birth in Delaware between 2011 and 2018, but made up half of the mothers who died in childbirth. At 12.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, the Delaware Black infant mortality rate is three times higher than the White infant mortality rate of 4.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

“These are more than statistics; they are mothers and children who leave behind loved ones. These bills are designed to help all Delaware mothers and infants, to improve their outcomes and increase their chances for a successful and healthy pregnancy, birthing process and postpartum. Taken together, these bills will make a huge impact on Delaware families across the state by breaking down barriers to vital healthcare treatment and removing other obstacles that mothers and families have faced.”

The United States has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality among high-income countries and wide disparities by race that have been documented since rates separated by race were first published in 1935. Currently, Indigenous and Black women are dying at two to three times the rate of White women, Asian/Pacific Islander women, and Hispanic women.

“As a health care worker and as a Black woman, I am all too aware of the disparities in maternal health outcomes,” said Sen. Marie Pinkney, D-Bear. “Black and Brown women across Delaware and across the nation are disproportionately likely to die during childbirth or experience serious pregnancy-related complications.  Every mother — regardless of the color of her skin, her socioeconomic standing, or her zip code — should have the same access to high-quality, equitable prenatal and postpartum health care services. That’s why I am thrilled to join Rep. Minor Brown in championing the Delaware Momnibus, a series of bills aimed at lifting up women and infants.”

Implicit bias impacts treatment decisions and outcomes. Black patients often are prescribed less pain medication than white patients who present the same complaints, and Black patients with signs of heart problems are not referred for advanced cardiovascular procedures as often as white patients with the same symptoms. Women are less likely to survive a heart attack when they are treated by a male physician and surgeon. LGBTQ and gender-nonconforming patients are less likely to seek timely medical care because they experience disrespect and discrimination from health care staff.

House Bill 344 SponsorsYes VotesNo Votes
Minor-Brown, Dorsey Walker, Heffernan, Baumbach, Bolden, Morrison, Wilson-Anton
McBride, Townsend, Lockman, Gay, Hansen, Sokola
Current Status: House Health & Human Development 3/16/22

“Despite recent strides to prioritize equity in the medical field, implicit bias still negatively impacts the experience that thousands of patients have in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms across our state,” said Sen. Sarah McBride, D-North Wilmington. “Even the fear of bias in our health care system creates meaningful barriers and often prevents those with marginalized identities from seeking care in the first place. My colleague Rep. Minor-Brown routinely sees the damaging effects that implicit bias has on her patients – from delayed diagnoses, to misdiagnosed symptoms, and mistreatment of illness. That’s why I am honored to co-sponsor HB 344, which would require additional bias training and accreditation for health care professionals and staff across our state.”

HB 344 would take effect January 1, 2023.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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