Murray: “After a pandemic that has pushed our nation’s unconscionable maternal mortality crisis in the wrong direction—these bipartisan bills represent much needed progress to help save lives and keep mothers healthy after birth.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), released the following statement on the inclusion of two bills to address the nation’s maternal mortality crisis as part of the omnibus.
“After a pandemic that has pushed our nation’s unconscionable maternal mortality crisis in the wrong direction—these bipartisan bills represent much needed progress to help save lives and keep mothers healthy after birth. I’m glad we were able to find common ground on steps to improve maternal health data collection, build our maternal health care workforce, increase access to care in rural areas, address discrimination that undermines care for patients of color, implement evidence-based best practices, and more.
“But even after we get these bills signed into law, we will have plenty of work ahead. The fact that our maternal death rate is the highest in the developed world—and higher still among women of color—isn’t just a tragedy, it’s an outrage. I’m going to keep fighting to change that and ensure every expecting parent can get the quality health care they need to have a healthy pregnancy.”
The omnibus released today includes both the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act and the Rural Maternal and Obstetric Modernization of Services (Rural MOMS) Act, bills which passed out of the Senate HELP Committee last year. These foundational bills authorize and improve programs to address the maternal mortality crisis in this country and build on current funding at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality.
The progress on the two bills comes as new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the U.S. maternal mortality rate rose again in 2020—particularly among women of color. Even before the latest increase, the U.S. had the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, and those high rates have been felt most acutely by Black and Indigenous women. Rural communities, where patients are more likely to struggle to find maternal health care, also face particularly high maternal death rates. An estimated sixty percent of these maternal deaths are preventable.
The omnibus also includes $177 million, an increase of $109 million above fiscal year 2021, in HRSA, CDC and NIH for work aimed at improving maternal health and reducing the nation’s alarmingly high maternal mortality rate. This will fund stronger data systems to improve surveillance and help expand programs that are proven to be successful at reducing maternal mortality. This includes: $83 million, an increase of $20 million above fiscal year 2021, for CDC to expand support for Safe Motherhood/Infant Health; $30 million, an increase of $6 million, for State Maternal Health Innovation Grants to expand grants for maternal care services, workforce needs, and postpartum and inter-conception care services; and $30 million for NIH’s new Implementing a Maternal Health and Pregnancy Outcomes Vision for Everyone (IMPROVE) initiative to expand research to reduce preventable causes of maternal death and improve the health of pregnant and postpartum women.
About the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act and the Rural MOMS Act
The Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act works to:
The Rural MOMS Act works to: