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Rubio, Warnock, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Maternal and Infant Health

May 24, 2021 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced legislation to improve health outcomes for women and infants, ahead of a hearing on the bill in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The bipartisan Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act would authorize new federal grant programs aimed at reducing maternal mortality and to help improve maternal health outcomes for all expectant mothers and their infants.

“It is unacceptable that the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate when compared to other developed countries. This bill would mark an important step forward in addressing the devastatingly high maternal mortality rate,” Rubio said. “These are common-sense initiatives we can take to improve outcomes for mothers and their babies in America.” 

“It’s beyond time for Congress to address the maternal health crisis that’s disproportionately killing Black women and women of color in Georgia and throughout the nation, and the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act is a critical step forward.” Warnock said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan legislation, and I’m going to keep working to make sure the federal government is doing its part to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity across Georgia and our nation.” 

Background:  In the richest nation on earth, mothers are dying at higher rates than other high-income countries—and the rate is rising. From 2000 to 2014, the U.S.’s maternal mortality ratio increased by 26.6%, from 18.8 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2000, to 23.8 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2014. Annually, there are an estimated 700 pregnancy related deaths occur in the U.S., and 60% of these are considered preventable. Additionally, for every maternal death, 50-100 women experience severe maternal morbidity. And, as dire as the situation is overall, the crisis is most severe for African-American women in the U.S., who are dying at 3 to 4 times the rate of their white counterparts.

Additionally, maternal health experts caution that the COVID-19 pandemic may be exacerbating the maternal mortality crisis. According to the CDC, pregnant women are at an increased risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19 when compared to non-pregnant women, and may be more likely to require hospitalization, intensive care, and ventilation. The Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act would enhance evidence-based programs to improve maternal health. 

The Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act would:

  • Authorize a grant program for innovations in reducing maternal mortality including developing evidence based best practices and improving maternal mortality review committee data;
  • Authorize a grant program for racial and ethnic bias training for health care providers;
  • Create a study on best practices for teaching within health professional training programs to reduce and prevent discrimination;
  • Expand the ability of the CDC to award grants for perinatal quality collaboratives; and
  • Authorize a grant program for developing integrated health care services for pregnant and postpartum women and infants, with grants and reporting of study outcomes.

The bill is endorsed by the following entities and organizations: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; 1,000 Days; 2020 Mom; AIDS Alliance for Women, Infants, Children, Youth & Families; American College of Nurse-Midwives; American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists; American Hospital Association, American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA); American Nurses Association; American Psychiatric Association; American Public Health Association; America’s Essential Hospitals; Amniotic Fluid Embolism Foundation; Anthem, Inc.; APS Foundation of America, Inc; Association of American Medical Colleges; Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs; Association of Public Health Laboratories; Babyscripts; Blue Cross Blue Shield Association; Catholic Health Association of the United States; Every Mother Counts; First Focus Campaign for Children; Futures Without Violence; Glo Preemies; Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation; Johnson & Johnson; March of Dimes; March for Moms; Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance; Mom Congress; MomsRising; National Association of County and City Health Officials; National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health; National Black Women’s HIV/AIDS Network; National Medical Association; National WIC Association; Nurse-Family Partnership; PCOS Challenge: The National Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association; The PPROM Foundation; Preeclampsia Foundation; PreemieWorld, LLC; Sepsis Alliance; Shades Of Blue Project; Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine; Society for Women’s Health Research; and The Joint Commission.