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Senate Health Committee Advances Alexander, Bennet “PREEMIE” Bill to Give Infants Hope for Healthier Lives

Legislation updates programs aimed at preventing preterm births

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2018 — The Senate health committee today passed legislation sponsored by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) to reduce infant deaths and improve infant health by continuing research and education programs aimed at preventing preterm births.

“In Tennessee, about 11 percent of babies are born preterm,” said Alexander, who is chairman of the Senate health committee. “I first introduced the PREEMIE Act in 2003, with the encouragement of the March of Dimes, to support health care professionals caring for babies born premature. Since it was first signed into law in 2006 and reauthorized in 2013, this law has helped give more babies the chance at long and healthy lives, so it is important the Committee passed this bill today, so the full Senate can consider it before many of the programs expire on September 30.”

“About 1 in 10 babies was born premature in 2016, including nearly 9 percent of babies in Colorado,” said Bennet, who is a member of the Senate health committee. “It’s promising that we passed this bill in committee today to expand on the important research and education initiated by the PREEMIE Act. It’s important that the Senate pass this bill to help combat the opioid epidemic and ensure mothers and babies receive the care they need. Every child deserves a healthy start in life, and this law will help ensure that.”

Senator Alexander introduced the PREEMIE Act—to help reduce infant mortality—in 2003, and it was first signed into law in 2006. The law was first reauthorized in 2013, sponsored by Alexander and Bennet, and needs to be reauthorized this year before many of the programs expire on September 30th. The legislation is now due for consideration before the full Senate after the committee passed the legislation today by voice vote.

This legislation reauthorizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) research and data collection on infants born premature and reauthorizes programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration aimed at improving the treatment and outcomes of infants born premature. This includes grants to help doctors and the public understand the potential risk factors for having a preterm baby, such as smoking, and grants to screen and treat expectant mothers for substance use disorders, including opioid use disorders. This reauthorization also includes updated language to address maternal health.