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Legislation supports efforts to reduce maternal mortality rates
Congressman Brian Higgins on Wednesday announced the approval of H.R. 4995, the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act of 2020. The bill seeks to resolve disparities in access to maternal health care among rural and minority populations.
“Despite having access to some of the best medical care in the world, American women, particularly women of color and those in underserved communities, face unnecessarily high rates of maternal mortality,” said Higgins who is a member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. “This legislation helps to provide further insight into these outcomes and support training and programs in obstetric care aimed at reversing this trend.”
Although maternity care has made great strides in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states maternal mortality rates remain at around 700 women per year. The CDC also reports Black, American Indian and Alaska Native women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. Higgins’ team said challenges within the maternal health care system weigh more heavily on minority and rural communities, where access to health care of all kinds has traditionally lacked.
The bill authorizes grant funding to support obstetrics demonstration projects at medical teaching facilities, to produce and promote best practices to reduce preventable deaths, to educate professionals on discriminatory practices in health care, and to support integrated health services for pregnant and postpartum women. The legislation also seeks to improve data collection, thereby enabling the Department of Health and Human Services and other health agencies to formulate new practices for reducing health disparities among rural and minority populations, and widens the availability of telehealth services for maternal care.
Higgins recently spoke during a Ways and Means Committee Hearing on racial health disparities generally and specifically related to COVID-19. Earlier this year, he facilitated a meeting in Washington, D.C., with the National Institutes of Health, the University at Buffalo, and the African-American Health Disparities Task Force to discuss ways to leverage local work on national efforts to decrease and eliminate health disparities.