Gillibrand Introduces MOMS Act In Senate

WASHINGTON– U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, has announced the Modernizing Obstetric Medicine Standards (MOMS) Act to help prevent women from suffering from medical complications or dying before, during, and after childbirth.

Gillibrand said 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 child birth in the US, there are 70 women who nearly die. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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. The MOMS Act would helpreduce 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. There were fewer than 10 maternal deaths from 2013 to 2015, according to state Health Department data. 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 twelve times more likely to die from complications arising during or after 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. It’s even worse for black women, who are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. In New York City, black women are twelve times more likely to die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth. This is completely unacceptable and largely avoidable, and it’s a crisis that we can and must solve now,” Gillibrand said.

“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. 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-N.J., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif. The legislation would 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.

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