Hoyer Remarks at Black Maternal Health Caucus Stakeholder Summit

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) joined Congresswomen Alma Adams (NC-12) and Lauren Underwood (IL-14), founders and co-chairs of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, at a Stakeholder Summit to hear insights and recommendations for the Caucus. Below are excerpts of his remarks:

“There are moms and ladies who are very lucky to have [Rep.] Alma Adams and [Rep.] Lauren Underwood in their corner pumping this issue, focusing on this issue, and fighting for them. Lauren and Alma, thank you. [Rep. Underwood] comes to a lot of my meetings, and I will tell you, there is nobody in Congress who is more inclined to speak up, speak out, and speak truth to – I don’t know if we have any power – but speak truth – period. Lauren, what an asset you are to the Congress of the United States.” 

“Now, I have on my list two people with whom I’ve worked very, very long time – to acknowledge… [Rep.] Donna Shalala, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services, President of Wisconsin, President of the University of Miami, President of the Clinton Foundation… But nobody knows more about this issue than she does, and we are so lucky to have her here with us.”

“And then, of course, the giant of the Caucus – [Rep.] John Lewis, who is also very focused on this issue as he has been for years in making sure people are treated equally. I want to thank all of them for helping to raise awareness and to convene this summit on the disparities facing African-American mothers and mothers-to-be, and seek solutions.”  

“I am proud to be a founding member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. African-American women are nearly four times more likely – you know these statistics, but they bear repeating because they are so dramatic – four times more likely and more than twice as likely as women of other races to die from preventable pregnancy-related complications. Congress has a role to play in addressing this challenge. A tragedy that should not happen in his country. We have the expertise, medical skills, the prescription drugs, to prevent that from happening.”

“This is an issue I care very deeply about, which is of critical importance for the communities I represent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Prince George’s Health Department… over the last decade, the maternal mortality rate for African-American women in Prince George’s County Maryland… was higher than the average rate across Maryland. Why? Because we have a high minority population.” 

“As Majority Leader, I am committed to making this issue a priority for the House to reduce these disparities and working with Representatives Adams, Underwood, Shalala and others to make sure Congress is doing its job to help.” 

“We’re here today because we recognize that something big needs to be done to address this challenge, and we are determined with you to get it done. I want to thank all the organizations represented here for the important work you’ve been doing so far and for sharing the stories of your successes and yes, of your failures. The tragedies that have occurred – we need to touch people’s minds and touch their hearts and say this ought not happen in America.”

“I thank you for your commitment to the noble cause to make this an all hands on deck effort, which it needs to be. And I look forward to working with you, my colleagues, and our community to make sure that this tragic loss does not continue to occur. We can do it. We must do it. And as John Lewis would tell us all, ‘keep our eye on the prize.’ God bless.”

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