05.25.21

HELP Committee Unanimously Passes Bipartisan Bills to Address Maternal Mortality Crisis, Support Mental Health of Health Care Workers, And More

Senate HELP Committee voted unanimously to pass six bipartisan health and labor bills

 

Maternal mortality bills will establish new grant programs, improve demographic data, and address inequities in maternal health care

 

Committee also passed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act to address the mental health needs of health care workers

 

Murray: “I’ll be working to get these bills across the finish line as soon as we can—but I know they are only a start when it comes to solving the problems families are facing.”

 

***WATCH SENATOR MURRAY’S OPENING REMARKS HERE***

 

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement following the Committee successfully passing several bipartisan health and labor bills in executive session.

 

“I’d like to thank Ranking Member Burr and all of my colleagues for the hard work that went into the bills we voted out of Committee today. This Committee has a history of coming together to address the problems families are facing by finding common ground and common sense solutions, and the legislation we advanced today marks the next chapter of that history.  I’ll be working to get these bills across the finish line as soon as we can—but I know they are only a start when it comes to solving the problems families are facing.

 

“While I was pleased the American Rescue Plan was able to provide the largest expansion of health coverage for families in over a decade and cut health care costs for many working families—there is a lot more we must do to address the reality that for years now health care costs have continued to skyrocket out of control, care has gotten farther out of reach for so many people, and inequities have been growing deeper and more damaging.  We need to go bigger and bolder when it comes to health care—families can afford no less. So I look forward to discussing in the weeks ahead what that looks like, and how we get it done.”

 

Today the Committee voted, unanimously, to advance the following legislation:

  • S. 1675, Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act
  • S. 1491, Rural Maternal and Obstetric Modernization of Services Act
  • S. 1662, Supporting the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration Act
  • S. 1301, Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act
  • S. 610, Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act
  • S. 1658, Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act

 

Senator Murray has been pushing for legislative action to address the maternal mortality crisis for years, and worked closely with her colleagues on the provisions passed by the Committee today. During the executive session, Senator Murray spoke at length in her opening remarks about the bills, and the work ahead to bring down the U.S. maternal death rate and address health inequities.

 

“Our nation has the highest maternal death rate in the developed world. That rate is also two to three times higher for women of color, and it has been going up for years. That’s not just a tragedy, it’s an outrage. That’s why I’ve pushed for more funding for CDC to work on this issue, and for state Maternal Mortality Review Committees, which have been looking at how we can get our arms around this crisis,” said Senator Murray. “And it’s why I’ve been working with my colleagues on the Committee for years now to move some of the provisions in these two bills forward.”

 

“I will be pushing not only to get these bills passed into law as soon as possible, but also to follow up on them, fund them, adjust them, and build on them to make sure we see the progress we need to here.”

 

Senator Murray’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

 

“I would first like to talk about the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act from Senator Warnock and Senator Rubio; and the Rural Maternal and Obstetric Modernization of Services Act from Senator Smith and Senator Murkowksi.

 

“Our nation has the highest maternal death rate in the developed world. That rate is also two to three times higher for women of color, and it has been going up for years.

 

“That’s not just a tragedy, it’s an outrage. That’s why I’ve pushed for more funding for CDC to work on this issue, and for state Maternal Mortality Review Committees, which have been looking at how we can get our arms around this crisis.

 

“And it’s why I’ve been working with my colleagues on the Committee for years now to move some of the provisions in these two bills forward.

 

“Among other steps, the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act supports several grant programs at H-H-S including grants to support evidence-based models to provide integrated health care services, grants to help states, Tribes, and territories establish perinatal quality collaboratives that can coordinate efforts to improve care outcomes for mothers and infants…

 

“And new grants that would create long-overdue programs focused on improving maternal health care outcomes by exploring, identifying, and sharing innovative new best practices, and providing training to health care providers specific to the needs of communities of color—including the need to identify and eliminate biases against them, something we know is hurting maternal health outcomes for patients of color.

 

“It also includes language directing HHS to raise awareness around the importance of vaccines for pregnant women.

 

“Pregnant women across the country have been looking for information about vaccines during this pandemic—and making sure they can find the answers they need, not just about COVID vaccines, but other vaccines that can protect them and their infants—is so important.

 

“I’m thankful to Senator Kaine and Senator Murkowski for their work on this.

 

“Meanwhile the Rural MOMS Act provides grants to increase telehealth networks for maternal health services, and improve maternal health access and outcomes in rural communities…

 

“It also establishes a new program to train more maternal health care providers in rural settings and improves maternal health-related data collection—including data related to geography, race, ethnicity, and more.

 

“I will be pushing not only to get these bills passed into law as soon as possible…

 

“But also to follow up on them, fund them, adjust them, and build on them to make sure we see the progress we need to here.

 

“Today, the Committee will also vote on the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act.

 

“The PUMP Act will close loopholes that leave nearly nine million working mothers uncovered by federal protections meant to ensure employees have reasonable break time, and a private place to pump.

 

“This is a common sense way to help ensure our economy works for working families, and I’m grateful to Senator Merkley, and Senator Murkowski for their work on this.

 

“I hope to see this bill quickly signed into law, and hope to follow it with further steps to help working families like paid leave, and quality, affordable child care.

 

“We will also be voting on the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act. Even before the pandemic, burnout was especially high among health care workers, and physicians had the highest suicide rate of any profession in the country.

 

“But after more than a year spent on the frontlines of this crisis.

 

“After so many long, stressful hours in overcrowded health care facilities, and in a relentless life and death struggle against a disease unlike anything we have seen in a century.

 

“It’s more important than ever we address the trauma our health care workers have been through, and make sure they too are getting the care they need.

 

“The Dr. Lorna Breen Act works to do that by providing grants to support training, education and awareness campaigns, and more to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, mental health conditions, and substance use disorders among health care professionals.

 

“I’d like to thank Senators Kaine, Young, Reed, and Cassidy for their work on this. 

 

“This past year, we have seen so much important work happening at the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.

 

“And so I’m pleased today to be advancing legislation from Senators Luján, Romney,  and Collins that would increase the available financial support to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, and the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration two nonprofit organizations that do critical work to aid the public health missions of NIH and FDA.

“Finally, today we will also be voting to advance the Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act.

 

“The Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Recommendations for Americans are a helpful resource to people across the country working to live healthier lives.

 

“I’m grateful to my colleagues Senators Brown, Wicker, and Capito for their work on this bill.

 

“And now, I’ll turn it over to Senator Burr for his remarks.” 

 

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