Committees Advance Maternal Health and Health Equity Bills

DENVER, CO– Two House Committees today advanced two bills addressing maternal and social determinants of health in Colorado. The Judiciary Committee advanced Rep. Leslie Herod’s bill about perinatal pregnancy protections, particularly for those giving birth while incarcerated, by a vote of 7-4, while the Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee passed Reps. Leslie Herod and Yadira Caraveo’s bill to create a strategic plan to address health equity disparities in underrepresented populations by a vote of 8-4.

“Our country is facing both a maternal mortality and a health equity crisis, and today we took bold steps to address both,” said Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver. “American women face subpar perinatal and postnatal care, and for Black and Indigenous women, it’s far worse. Maternal mortality in our communities is two to three times higher than that of white women. The bills we advanced today will work in tandem to improve health care for expecting mothers and communities of color.”

“I see the devastating manifestations of Colorado’s health disparities play out in my medical clinic far too often,” said Doctor Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton. “The bill we advanced today will improve health equity in our state and help chart our course toward better health outcomes for Black, Brown and Indigenous communities in Colorado.” 

SB21-193, considered by the Judiciary Committee today, takes several steps to address maternal health inequality in Colorado. It ensures a pregnant person’s advance directive is honored the same way as one coming from a non-pregnant person, addressing what’s known as the pregnancy exclusion clause that was recently found unconstitutional by a federal judge. The bill also requires the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to receive reports regarding culturally incongruent maternal care provided to pregnant women or those in postpartum care, and it adds protections for pregnant people in jails and state correctional facilities.

SB21-181, considered by the Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee today, expands and improves the existing Health Disparities Grant Program and requires the Department of Public Health and Environment to prepare a biennial report on health disparities and how best to address social determinants of health for underrepresented populations.