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Maternity Care Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Roybal-Allard and Herrera Beutler Celebrate Maternity Care Victories in Appropriations Bill

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Washington, December 20, 2019 | Ben Soskin ((202) 225-1766) | comments
Today, Congresswomen Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), members of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee and founding Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Maternity Care, celebrated key Maternity Care Caucus priorities that were included in HR 1865, the FY 2020 domestic appropriations bill which funds the Department of Health and Human Services. 

The U.S. spends significantly more per capita on childbirth than any other industrialized nation, but continues to rank far behind almost all other developed countries in healthy birth outcomes for both mothers and babies.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 700 American women die annually due to pregnancy or delivery complications -- and this maternal mortality crisis is just the tip of the iceberg.  U.S. infant mortality rates are higher than 33 other similarly wealthy countries, and more than 50,000 American women per year experience severe complications in pregnancy that adversely impact their health.  These largely preventable tragedies at birth are most often found in communities of color.  In addition, our nation has made some of the slowest progress in the world in reducing stillbirth rates, has unacceptably high rates of preterm births and cesarean sections, and is not adequately diagnosing and treating postpartum depression.  

“I am proud we have won these fights to prioritize investments in critical maternal and infant health programs in this appropriations bill,” said Rep. Roybal-Allard.  “These robust funding choices will help address pervasive health disparities that disproportionately impact mothers and babies in our minority communities.  As Maternity Caucus Co-Chair, I believe we must make optimal maternal and infant health a national priority. I will keep working with my co-chair Congresswoman Herrera Beutler to robustly fund programs that have been shown to improve maternity care services and result in healthier mothers and babies in all our communities.”

“The well-being of our nation is tied to us prioritizing the health and safety of mothers and their babies,” said Rep. Herrera Beutler.  “As co-founder of the bipartisan Maternity Care Caucus, I’m thrilled we were able to advance critical funding to support moms including screening for maternal depression, midwifery education and advocacy, and expand maternal mortality review committees.  I will continue to work with Congresswoman Roybal-Allard and my colleagues from both parties to improve crucial life-saving services for moms and babies.” 

Key Maternity Care Caucus priorities that were robustly funded in the measure include:
• $687 million for the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, a program that creates federal/state partnerships that enable each state/jurisdiction to address the health services needs of its mothers, infants and children, including children with special health care needs, and their families.
• $125.5 million for the Healthy Start Program, which sustains a network of community-based programs that support low-income and disadvantaged pregnant women and their families.
• $2.5 million within the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students to educate Midwives and to increase the diversity of the maternity care workforce.
• $17.88 million for the HRSA Heritable Disorders Newborn Screening Program, which strengthens the newborn screening system to ensure infants born in every state receive rapid identification, early intervention, and potentially life-saving treatment.
• $5 million for the HRSA Screening and Treatment for Maternal Depression Program.
• $17 million for the CDC Newborn Screening Quality Assurance program, which provides unique technical experience and laboratory capabilities to help state public health labs establish testing for new conditions identified by newborn screening tests, and ensure test results for new conditions are accurate.
• $58 million for the CDC Safe Motherhood Programs, which support a broad range of activities to improve the health of mothers and babies and reduce disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes.
      o $12 million of that money will be used to expand maternal mortality review committees.
• $9 million for the CDC Hospitals Promoting Breastfeeding Initiative to help hospitals and other health systems increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates, and eliminate inequities in breastfeeding support.
• $1.56 billion for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which supports research on the causes and interventions for maternal and infant mortality and morbidity health disparities.

HR 1865 was approved by both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate this week, and the president is expected to sign it by the December 20 midnight deadline.

In 2015, the Congresswomen co-founded the bipartisan Caucus on Maternity Care to raise awareness about the status of childbirth in this country and the challenges facing America’s maternity care system.  

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Tags: Health