WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) are teaming up once again to reintroduce legislation that aims to reduce maternal deaths and improve the "health outcomes" of pregnant women and mothers enrolled in Medicaid.
The senators are proposing the Supporting Best Practices for Healthy Moms Act, which would create a "diverse, representative National Advisory Committee on Reducing Maternal Deaths." The goals of this act and committee include establishing best practices for all Medicaid-covered maternal care providers, generating culturally competent materials to help inform pregnant women of potential risks during pregnancy, as well as reporting to Congress on issues of equity in the medical field when it comes to childbirth.
According to the press release sent out on Feb. 24, in recent years there has been a renewed focus on preventable pregnancy-related deaths in the United States. Research has shown that the leading causes of death related to pregnancy are cardiovascular and coronary conditions. Other leading causes are infections, hemorrhage, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, and cardiomyopathy.
The legislation states that each year, 700 women die from complications related to childbirth. Black, Native American, and Alaska Native women are two to three times more likely to die from these complications than their white counterparts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) many of these deaths are preventable.
The press release goes on to say that in 2018, Medicaid financed almost half of all births in the United States. Despite this, women who give birth under Medicaid coverage are more likely to die during childbirth than women with private insurance. Overwhelmingly, Medicaid beneficiaries are also more likely to come from low-income communities.
"A mother’s chance of surviving pregnancy shouldn’t depend on her zip code or the type of insurance she has,” Senator Brown said. “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."
Senator Toomey expanded on these points.
“By bolstering information and resources to better monitor and treat at-risk pregnancies, this legislation will help improve health outcomes for pregnant women and mothers enrolled in Medicaid," he said.
Those interested in reading the full proposed legislation, can click here.