Maternity Care Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Roybal-Allard and Herrera Beutler Celebrate Securing Maternity Care Victories in House Appropriations Bill
Today, Congresswomen Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), the founding Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Maternity Care and members of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, celebrated the inclusion of key Maternity Care Caucus priorities in HR 7617, the FY 2021 domestic appropriations bill which includes funding for the Department of Health and Human Services. The congresswomen successfully advocated for provisions in this bill to promote maternal, infant, and child health; reduce health disparities and maternal mortality; support low-income and disadvantaged pregnant women and their families; strengthen screening of newborns for heritable disorders in newborns; promote breastfeeding; protect mothers’ mental health; support a skilled and diverse midwifery workforce; and more.
“I am grateful to Chairwoman DeLauro and Ranking Member Cole for supporting these critical investments in maternal and infant health programs in the FY21 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill,” said Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Vice Chair Roybal-Allard. “As Maternity Care Caucus Co-Chair, I believe it is time for policymakers to prioritize optimal maternal and infant health for all families in the United States. The robust funding choices and directive language in this bill will improve maternity care for all mothers and babies, and will help address pervasive maternal and infant health disparities that disproportionately hurt our minority communities. I am proud to be working with my co-chair Congresswoman Herrera Beutler to raise awareness of the challenges in our maternity care system, and to effectively fund critical programs and initiatives that have been shown to improve the lives and health of mothers and babies in all our communities.”
“It’s vital we prioritize the health and safety of moms and their babies across the country as the U.S. continues to see staggering maternal mortality rates, pre-term births, and stillbirths,” said Rep. Herrera Beutler. “That’s why I’ve partnered with my Maternity Care Caucus Co-Chair Congresswoman Roybal-Allard to expand maternal mortality review committees, increase health education and perinatal depression screenings, and expand access to birth centers and midwifery education. Our mission is to ensure our moms and babies receive the life-saving services they need, and I’ll continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to achieve that goal.”
Key Maternity Care Caucus funding and language priorities in the measure include:
• $712.7 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.
• $130 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.
• $68 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. $22 million of that money will be used to expand maternal mortality review committees.
• $21.9 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.
• $19 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.
• $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.
• $7 million to expand implementation of the HRSA Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health program’s maternal safety bundles to all states, territories, tribal entities and the District of Columbia. These bundles are a set of targeted and evidence-based best practices that, when implemented, improve patient outcomes and reduce maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity.
• $5 million for the HRSA Screening and Treatment for Maternal Depression Program.
• $3 million in first time funding to support a Maternal Mental Health Hotline.
• $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.
• Language directing CMS to develop a proposal to increase access to birth centers and midwives in all state Medicaid programs.
• Language encouraging HHS to develop a coordinated Department-wide strategy and implementation plan to identify and address factors that lead to maternal mortality and prematurity, including those socio-economic and racial-ethnic factors contributing to disparities in outcomes and inequities in health care.
• Language directing HHS to prepare to implement recommendations developed by a NICHD Task Force to address gaps in knowledge and research on safe and effective therapies for pregnant and lactating women.
• Language urging the National Center for Health Statistics to explore ways to collect more detailed records on birth settings as part of its collection of vital statistics.
• Language supporting the work and current structure of the NICHD Maternal Fetal Medicine Units Research Network.
• Language directing NIH to establish a comprehensive COVID-19 pediatric research agenda.
In 2015, the congresswomen co-founded the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Maternity Care to raise awareness about the status of childbirth in this country and the challenges facing America’s maternity care system. 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.
HR 7617 will be voted on today by the House.