Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) are teaming up to help reduce maternal deaths and improve the health outcomes of pregnant women and mothers enrolled in Medicaid. 

 

In recent years, physicians and researchers have placed a heightened focus on preventable pregnancy-related deaths in the United States. Research shows that the leading causes of death related to pregnancy are cardiovascular and coronary conditions, following by infections, hemorrhage, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, and cardiomyopathy. Decreasing severe maternal morbidity will help decrease maternal mortality. In 2018, Medicaid financed nearly half of all US births, and in some states, provided coverage for more than 60 percent of births. While the Medicaid program plays a critical role in addressing our nation’s maternal mortality crisis, pregnant women on Medicaid are more likely to experience higher rates of severe maternal morbidity and mortality than pregnant women with private health insurance. Medicaid beneficiaries, overrepresented by low-income communities and people of color, experience higher rates of chronic illnesses, and are at higher risk of adverse health challenges. Senators Toomey and Brown have introduced the Supporting Best Practices for Healthy Moms Act to bolster the federal government’s effort to assist states in reducing these rates.

 

“Nearly 700 women died last year in the United States as a result of complications from pregnancy and childbirth. But we know that as many as two-thirds of these deaths may be preventable,” said Senator Toomey. “This legislation will help improve health outcomes for pregnant women and mothers enrolled in Medicaid by increasing information and resources to better monitor and treat at-risk pregnancies, as well as inform Congress on policies that may assist states in reducing maternal deaths.”

 

“A mother’s chance of surviving pregnancy shouldn’t depend on her zip code or the type of insurance she has,” said Brown. “Too many mothers are dying. As the death rate continues to skyrocket, the disparities in maternal mortality have increased along with it, further contributing to the Black maternal health crisis - and that has to change. By meeting moms where they are, listening to health experts, and establishing best practices, we can improve health outcomes and keep more of our mothers and children healthy and safe.”

 

The following organizations have provided integral information and support for the Supporting Best Practices for Healthy Moms Act:

·      America’s Essential Hospitals

·      American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

·      Einstein Healthcare Network

·      Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network

·      The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP)

·      The Joint Commission

·      Nemours Children’s Health System

·      Penn State Health

·      The Pennsylvania Medical Society

·      Temple University Health System

·      University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center

·      UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital

The Supporting Best Practices for Healthy Moms Act would:

1.     Create a diverse, representative National Advisory Committee on Reducing Maternal Deaths to:

a.      Establish best practices for all Medicaid-covered maternal care providers and clinicians to screen, monitor, and treat at-risk pregnancies;

b.     Generate culturally competent materials to help inform pregnant women of potential risks during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum; and

c.      Identify best practice for tracking maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity trends.

2.     Report to Congress on potential payment disincentives or regulatory barriers to the transfer of pregnant women between facilities before and during birth, as well as during the postpartum period.

 

A one-pager on this legislation is available here. You can also view the bill text here.