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May 7, 2021
LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel continues to join attorneys general from around the nation in a number of multistate actions, including the following:
Letter Urging Congress to Pass the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021
On May 6, Nessel joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general in urging Congress to pass the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021. The legislation is aimed at combatting the high Black maternal mortality rate and increasing access to maternal and perinatal care.
The coalition is highlighting the need to advance health equity across the country for all racial and ethnic minorities - especially Black mothers. The coalition issued a letter yesterday to Congressional leadership calling on Congress to pass H.R. 959, the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021. This legislative package addresses the social determinants of the Black maternal mortality crisis, including improving access to housing, transportation and nutrition services.
"Our nation has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world, with significantly higher rates of mortality for Black mothers," Nessel said. "Race based discrimination in our healthcare system cannot be tolerated, and I urge Congress to act now and pass the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act so that every mother and child has access to quality health care."
The Momnibus Act is intended to help decrease maternal mortality among Black mothers, who die at a rate three to four times higher than white mothers. Similarly, Native American, Asian-American and Pacific Islander, and Hispanic women are more likely to face maternal mortality than white women and non-Hispanic women. Many risk factors contribute to increased rates of maternal mortality, including preexisting conditions, socioeconomic status, lack of health insurance, and implicit bias and discrimination in health care.
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The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 addresses maternal mortality by ensuring women have access to equitable care at all stages of pregnancy. The legislative package is comprised of 12 bills that address the crisis through a multifaceted approach of increased grant funding, enhanced data collection and improving community programs. By specifically addressing the social determinants of health, the package aims to reduce maternal mortality by providing funding to community-based maternal health organizations; diversifying the perinatal workforce; supporting mothers and improving maternal health care for individuals with mental health conditions, substance abuse disorders, and those who are incarcerated; enhancing postpartum care; and promoting maternal health innovation such as telehealth, maternal vaccinations, and payment options from pregnancy through the postpartum period.
If passed, the policy changes would benefit individual state programs by increasing funding, furthering access to community supports and enhancing education services for mothers. More broadly, the legislation would assist state attorneys general in working to protect residents against race-based discrimination within the health care system.
A copy of the letter can be found here.
Letter to Treasury Regarding Law Enforcement Access to Database
On May 6, Nessel joined the National Association of Attorney General (NAAG) in submitting comments to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of Treasury, in response to its request for input regarding beneficial ownership information reporting and disclosure requirements.
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Earlier this year, the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) was passed. The CTA requires certain companies to disclose their actual, or "beneficial," owners to FinCEN. FinCEN will then maintain that ownership information in a database and disclose it to government agencies and financial institutions, subject to appropriate protocols. State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, including state attorneys general offices, must obtain court authorization to access this beneficial ownership data-a step not required for federal agencies.
In their letter, the attorneys general:
- Emphasize the need to ensure state, local, and tribal enforcers have timely and efficient access to beneficial ownership information.
- Encourage continued engagement about the development of CTA-related regulations with attorneys general, with NAAG serving as a liaison.
- Urge FinCEN to develop regulations that permit the beneficial ownership information to be used as evidence and provided to the defense, particularly when necessary for prosecutors to discharge their discovery and disclosure obligations.
A copy of the letter is available here.
In 2020, 42 attorneys general supported the Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking of Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings (ILLICIT CASH) Act, which was similar to the CTA. However, unlike the CTA, the ILLICIT Cash Act placed federal and state enforcers on equal footing to obtain beneficial ownership information.
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