05.25.21

Senate HELP Committee Passes Six Bipartisan Bills to Improve Maternal, Mental Health

Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed six bipartisan bills, including legislation to improve maternal care and to provide mental health support for health care professionals.

The bills passed during today’s executive session include the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act, the Rural Maternal and Obstetric Modernization of Services (MOMS) Act, the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act, the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, the Supporting the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration Act, and the Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act.

Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) applauded the Committee’s bipartisan work to address these critical initiatives during his opening statement before the Committee’s vote.

Excerpts of Senator Burr’s Opening Statement:

I am pleased to move these important public health and workplace priorities through the HELP Committee this morning.

“These policies demonstrate the ability of this Committee to accomplish meaningful, bipartisan progress on issues that affect millions of Americans.

“Some of today’s legislation touches on very personal aspects of health care policy – caring for mothers, supporting our health care providers, improving our own health, and strengthening the research that supports all of this work.  

“Along with caring for those on the front lines, today’s docket includes new tools for the public health agencies that provide the resources necessary to advance our health care for the future.”

 Background:

 The Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act would support grant programs through the Department of Health and Human Services to improve maternal and infant health care quality and outcomes and to enhance prenatal, labor, and postpartum training for health care professionals. This legislation passed the Committee by voice vote.

The Rural Maternal and Obstetric Modernization of Services (MOMS) Act would take steps to address the United States’ high maternal mortality rate by improving rural maternal and obstetric care data, establishing rural obstetric network grants, expanding existing federal telehealth grant programs, and creating a report on maternal care in rural areas to identify gaps in care and recommend data collection to improve maternal care. This legislation passed the Committee by voice vote.

The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act would provide updated workplace accommodations to protect working mothers and clarifies existing guidance for businesses across the nation. This legislation passed the Committee by voice vote.

The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act would address the need to support the mental health of doctors and nurses given what they face every day in their work, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, by enhancing training and educational programs to increase awareness on suicide and other mental health concerns. This legislation passed the Committee by voice vote.

The Supporting the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration Act would increase both the minimum and maximum authority that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can allocate to their respective foundations. This increase will advance collaboration and innovation with both foundations to address cutting-edge regulatory science challenges. This legislation passed the Committee by voice vote

The Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act would require HHS to update and publish the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans every 10 years, review best practices in examining barriers to physical activity every five years, and ensure any recommendation is consistent with current science. This legislation passed the Committee by voice vote.