House, Senate pass maternal mortality prevention legislation

The House and Senate have passed legislation providing funding for state committees to investigate maternal deaths and to share the information nationwide.

The Senate on Thursday approved by unanimous consent the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act, two days after the House passed the bill. It now goes to President Trump’s desk for his signature.

The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act establishes and supports state Maternal Mortality Review Committees (MMRCs) to assess each pregnancy-related or pregnancy-associated death and, based on those findings, to develop recommendations for how to prevent future loss of life.

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President Barack Obama delivers a health care address to a joint session of Congress at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

MMRCs investigate maternal deaths and come up with recommendations by linking death certificate and birth certificate or fetal death records, as well as accessing data on maternal deaths such as medical and social records.

“Once all states have adequate resources to expertly review maternal deaths, we can achieve greater success in both honoring the lives of mothers lost and equipping our nation to prevent future deaths during pregnancy or in the year following childbirth,” says Jonathan Webb, CEO of the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs.

A coalition of more than 80 organizations, including the American Hospital Association and American Medical Association, urged Congress to pass the bill by the end of 2018 to address the U.S. maternal mortality rate, which has more than doubled since 1987.

Also See: Provider groups urge Congress to pass maternal health bill this year

“We thank the Senate for recognizing that pregnant women in this country are facing a public health crisis and moving quickly to approve this legislation before the end of the year,” says Stacey Stewart, president of March of Dimes. “Maternal mortality is preventable and with this bill we will be better able to understand the underlying causes to help us prevent future deaths.”

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