Today is a very exciting day in the United States House of Representatives! The House of Representatives has passed H.R. 1318, Preventing Maternal Deaths Act. As the maternal mortality rate in the United States continues to rise, it is imperative that additional funding and resources be allocated to address this problem so that the pregnant and postpartum people are not at risk of dying from preventable causes. It is believed that over 60% of all maternal mortality deaths could be prevented with appropriate care and programs in place to identify those at risk.
Many states have been struggling with implementing their own maternal mortality review boards, challenged with a lack of funding and a basic foundation on what deaths are considered related to the childbearing year. Only 60 % of the states have established review boards as of this date. The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act will allocate financial resources and expertise to help address this problem. It authorizes the federal government to support states in (1) reviewing pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated deaths (maternal deaths); (2) establishing and sustaining a maternal mortality review committee to review relevant information; (3) ensuring that the state department of health develops a plan for ongoing health care provider education in order to improve the quality of maternal care, disseminate findings, and implement recommendations; (4) disseminating a case abstraction form to aid information collection for HHS review and preserve its uniformity; and (5) providing for the public disclosure of information included in state reports.
Mandatory guidelines and reporting protocols will be implemented so that all maternal mortality events are correctly identified and reported.
The passage of the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act has been actively encouraged and supported by many maternal-infant health organizations, including Lamaze International. Lamaze members and leadership actively work to keep the topic of maternal mortality in the spotlight with their advocacy during Hill Days in Washington D.C., as well as financial and resource support in collaboration with other similarly minded organizations.
The next step for The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act is to pass the Senate (S.1112) and be signed into law by the President. You can contact your Senators and there are many organizations that have prepared talking points to bring up. You can check out ACNM's here. The USA must turn the ship around in regards to the number of people who are dying during the period of pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Lamaze International has a comprehensive and thorough Advocacy web page to help you speak up for families. You can find it here. Passage of the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act is a great start. Let's hope that we are soon celebrating the fact that this bill will be passed in Congress and implemented as soon as possible.