This week the House Energy and Commerce Health Committee approved two bipartisan bills that seek to strengthen and improve maternal health access and outcomes.
Introduced by Reps. Engel (D-NY), Bucshon (R-IN) Torres Small (D-NM), Latta (R-OH), Adams (D-NC), and Stivers (R-OH), the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act (H.R. 4995) would authorize grants to implement rural obstetric networks and maternal telehealth programs. It also contains maternal health provisions from the Lower Health Care Costs Act (S.1895), including funding to promote best practices, educate health care professionals on implicit bias, implement state perinatal quality collaboratives, and deliver integrated health care services to pregnant and postpartum women. Additionally, the legislation would establish a rural maternal and obstetric care training demonstration project where accredited midwifery education programs, teaching health centers, federally-qualified health centers, rural health clinics, community mental health centers and freestanding birth centers could apply for funding to help train midwives to provide maternal care services in rural, community-based settings. In order to be eligible to receive grant funding, a training program must be evidence-based and include instruction on implicit bias, maternal mental health, maternal substance use disorder and social determinants of health. The legislation also requires the Government Accountability Office to produce a report on maternal care in rural areas and identify the various gaps in access.
Introduced by Reps. Kelly (D-IL), Burgess (R-TX), Underwood (D-IL), Rodgers (R-WA), Pressley (D-MA), and Carter (R-GA), the Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services Act (H.R. 4996) would give states the option to extend Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage for pregnant and postpartum women from the current 60 days to one year (365 days) after birth, with an increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for the first year a state opts to extend the coverage. It also would require the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) to issue a report on access to doula care and reimbursement for services under the Medicaid program.
The American College of Nurse-Midwives has expressed support for provisions included in both pieces of legislation.