“Landmark” Maternal Health Legislation Clears Major Hurdle
Updated: Jan 8, 2019
In the wake of the ProPublica and NPR series “Lost Mothers,” the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill to fund state committees to review and investigate deaths of expectant and new mothers.
Update, Dec. 13, 2018 at 8:15 p.m. ET: On Thursday evening, the Senate unanimously passed its version of the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act, sending it to the president to sign.
Congress moved a big step closer on Tuesday toward addressing one of the most fundamental problems underlying the maternal mortality crisis in the United States: the shortage of reliable data about what kills American mothers.
The House of Representatives unanimously approved H.R. 1318, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act, to help states improve how they track and investigate deaths of expectant and new mothers.
The bipartisan bill authorizes $12 million a year in new funds for five years — an unprecedented level of federal support — for states to create review committees tasked with identifying maternal deaths, analyzing the factors that contributed to those deaths and translating the lessons into policy changes. Roughly two-thirds of states have such panels, but the legislation specifically allocates federal funds for the first time and sets out guidelines they must meet to receive those grants.
“We’re going to investigate every single [death] because these moms are worth it,” Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., the lead sponsor, testified at a hearing in September. Lisa Hollier, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, called the legislation a “landmark.”