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HAP Supports New Federal Bill to Improve Maternal Health

December 08, 2020

Last week, U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R–PA) and Sherrod Brown (D–OH) introduced legislation designed to improve health outcomes for millions of new and expectant mothers covered under the federal Medicaid program.

The Supporting Best Practices for Healthy Moms Act would add several key strategies to improve maternal health, particularly among new and expectant mothers at higher risk for complications. Medicaid beneficiaries were almost twice as likely to experience severe maternal morbidity and mortality when compared to patients with private insurance, according to a study commissioned by the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission.

The newly introduced legislation would:  

  • Create a national advisory committee with the intent of establishing best practices for all Medicaid maternal care providers to screen, monitor, and treat high-risk pregnancies
  • Inform women of their maternal health risks, and identify best practices for tracking maternal mortality and morbidity trends
  • Develop a report to Congress about the potential payment disincentives and regulatory barriers for transporting pregnant and postpartum women between facilities

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that Black and Indigenous women are two-to-three times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth than white women; and the majority of deaths are from preventable complications.

This new federal legislation accompanies recent initiatives from HAP, Pennsylvania’s medical providers, and state leaders to address these adverse health outcomes among pregnant women.

On October 1, Pennsylvania joined the Alliance for Innovation in Maternal Health (AIM). AIM, is a national maternal safety and quality improvement initiative focusing on reducing preventable maternal mortality and severe morbidity in the United States. HAP will be working with hospitals and obstetricians to enroll in this program during early 2021. The Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Collaborative will add the AIM Severe Hypertension in Pregnancy Bundle within the AIM Racial and Ethnic Disparities Bundle to further enhance maternal care and outcomes across the state.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) will partner to collect severe maternal morbidity data. Previous data collection by PHC4 has shed light on maternal health disparities, including the increase in eclampsia and preeclampsia experienced by Black women during pregnancy.

HAP joins the following organizations providing information and support for this important legislation:

  • America’s Essential Hospitals
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • Einstein Healthcare Network
  • Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network
  • The Joint Commission
  • Nemours Children’s Health System
  • Penn State Health
  • Pennsylvania Medical Society
  • Temple University Health System
  • University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
  • UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital

HAP strongly supports this new federal legislation and other initiatives to improve maternal health. For more information, contact Laura Stevens Kent, senior vice president, strategic integration, or Rob Shipp, PhD, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, HAP’s vice president, population health and clinical affairs.