Gillibrand announces legislation to reduce mortality rates for mothers
U.S. has more pregnancy-related deaths than any other developed country
Press Release, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
WASHINGTON, DC – With maternal mortality rates on the rise across the country and New York State, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday announced the Modernizing Obstetric Medicine Standards (MOMS) Act, new legislation that would help prevent women from suffering from medical complications or dying before, during, and after childbirth.
The United States has more pregnancy-related deaths than any other developed country in the world, particularly among black women. Each year it is estimated that there are at least 50,000 women who experience a complication during childbirth, and according to an NPR and ProPublica report, for every woman who dies in childbirth in the US, there are 70 women who nearly die.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 60 percent of these deaths and complications are preventable. Hospitals often lack the funding necessary for supplies and proper training to implement standards to prevent complications and deaths arising from pregnancy and childbirth.
“Our state has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country, and our country has the highest maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world,” Gillibrand said. “It’s even worse for black women, who are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. This is completely unacceptable and largely avoidable, and it’s a crisis that we can and must solve now.”
The MOMS Act would help reduce maternal deaths and complications in the United States by providing funding to states and hospitals to develop and implement standardized maternal safety best practices, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to prevent and respond to complications arising from pregnancy and childbirth.
New York State has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country, and over the past decade, the state has experienced a 60 percent increase in maternal mortality. To date, in August 2018, the rate of maternal mortality in New York State is 20.9 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. In New York City, where half of the state’s births take place, there have been 22.6 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births so far this year. Racial disparities are also very evident, especially with black women, who are three to four times more likely to die from complications arising during or after childbirth. In New York City, black women are 12 times more likely to die from complications arising during or after childbirth.
“This much-needed legislation would help our hospitals monitor all mothers before, during, and after they give birth for preventable but potentially fatal conditions like hemorrhage and preeclampsia, and it would provide them with the federal funding they need to purchase supplies to implement new procedures and effectively treat patients,” Gillibrand said. “We need to protect and value mothers, and I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this legislation to address the urgent crisis of maternal mortality and help end racial disparities in our health care system.”
The MOMS Act is cosponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA). This legislation would address the problem of maternal mortality by providing new funding to hospitals with obstetrics and gynecology practices that want to improve their response to pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated complications by implementing standardized best practices.
Specifically, the MOMS Act would do the following:
• Promote and update maternal safety standards and best practices for hospitals: The MOMS Act would expand the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) Program at HHS to develop new and update existing standardized maternal safety best practices and to provide technical assistance to states and hospitals to voluntarily implement such standards to prevent maternal mortality and morbidity.
• Create a grant program to help states and hospitals implement the standardized maternal safety best practices developed by AIM: The grant funding would be used to further develop, purchase the necessary supplies for, and conduct training to fully implement the new best practices for preventing maternal death and complications. Funding would be prioritized for hospitals serving low-income, at-risk, and rural populations.
• Improve the CDC Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System to include reports from state Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC) investigations of pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated deaths.
• Direct the CDC to provide technical assistance to State MMRCs to review pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated complications.
Gillibrand’s legislation is supported by Moms Rising, the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, and the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs. Gillibrand is also a cosponsor of the Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies Act (S. 3363), which would authorize two new grant programs to address the racial disparities in maternal care; the Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2017 (S. 1112), which would provide funding to states and Indian tribes to establish a new, or support the work of an existing, MMRC; and the Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act (S. 2637), which would create new ways to measure the quality of existing maternity and infant care provided through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).