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California's Momnibus Act seeks to address racial disparities in maternal, infant health

Dr. Toluwalase Ajayi is pictured with her daughter in this undated photo.
Courtesy of Dr. Toluwalase Ajayi
Dr. Toluwalase Ajayi is pictured with her daughter in this undated photo.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB-65, known as the California Momnibus Act, earlier this week. It aims to address racial disparities in maternal and infant health across California. The bill mirrors a federal initiative to reduce mortality rates among Black mothers and infants.

In California, the pregnancy-related mortality ratio for Black women is four to six times higher than other racial/ethnic groups.

RELATED: Midday Edition Special: Racism Fuels Black Maternal And Infant Health Crisis


Key components of the Momnibus Act include expanding Medi-Cal coverage to 12-months postpartum, Medi-Cal coverage for doula services, increasing the CalWorks supplement for pregnant people and a guaranteed income pilot program that prioritizes those who are pregnant.

The March of Dimes assisted in writing SB-65. Mashariki Kudumu, director of maternal and infant health for the greater Los Angeles area of March of Dimes, told KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday that she feels this is one step in improving maternity care and health outcomes for women and babies across California.

RELATED: California Legislature Approves Bill To Reduce Maternal Mortality Rate For Black Women

“What SB-65, the Momnibus bill, does is reimagine what pregnancy and birth can look like for our families. But we know we also have to reimagine systems that are more responsive, that are more respectful, that really seek to improve patient outcome, safety and experience. So, while this bill does a lot, we know there is still more work to be done,” Kudumu said.

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