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Jaime Herrera Beutler Supports Major Congressional Action to Combat Maternal Mortality Crisis

November 13, 2019
Press Release
House committee passes bipartisan legislation to extend Medicaid coverage for vulnerable moms up to a year following birth

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee advanced bipartisan legislation aimed at reducing and ending America’s growing maternal mortality crisis. U.S. Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX), Buddy Carter (R-GA), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Lauren Underwood (D-IL) cosponsored H.R. 4996, the Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services (MOMS) Act of 2019.

Today, more than half of new moms are covered by Medicaid when they give birth but lose Medicaid coverage just 60 days postpartum. There is clear data showing 70 percent of new moms will have at least one health complication within a year of giving birth.

The bipartisan Helping MOMS Act would incentivize states to extend Medicaid coverage for new moms up to one year after giving birth, or through the entire postpartum period. The measure would provide a 5 percent enhanced Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentages (FMAP) to incentivize extension. Just four states (CA, NJ, SC and MO) and the District of Columbia have extended Medicaid for new moms for an entire year.

“Every woman who’s had a baby knows the postpartum period can be the most difficult. In the United States, women are more likely to die of pregnancy-related conditions following the birth of their child than during pregnancy and yet, for many women, their healthcare coverage ends just sixty days after giving birth,” Herrera Beutler said.

She continued: “If we’re going to get serious about reversing the maternal death rate in America, we need to ensure that women’s access to treatment isn’t abruptly cut off during this vulnerable time, and that’s what the Helping MOMS Act will do. In my ongoing effort to put an end to the maternal mortality crisis, I’m proud to help lead this bipartisan legislation that will increase new mothers’ access to life-saving care.”

“H.R. 4996, the Helping MOMS Act of 2019 builds on the success of Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler’s H.R. 1318, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act,” Burgess said. “This bill provides for a state option under the Medicaid program to provide for and extend continuous coverage for pregnant and postpartum mothers. States have already indicated a willingness to address maternal mortality rates, and H.R. 4996 will allow states to bolster their efforts.”

“Incentivizing postpartum Medicaid expansion is a critical first step in preventing maternal deaths by ensuring new moms can see their doctor. I’m proud that my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, came together to put an end to the sad reality of American moms dying while growing their families,” Kelly said. We can’t allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. This is a good, bipartisan first step, but it must be the first of many.”

“It is a fact that maternal morbidity and mortality are on the rise in the United States at unacceptable rates. In Washington State, women who use Medicaid coverage during pregnancy die at higher rates than those with private health insurance. We as a country are judging ourselves on our ability to keep women alive for the first year postpartum, and yet, healthcare coverage for many is eliminated 6 weeks after delivery. This is when most patients see their obstetric providers for their postpartum visit. This is also when obstetric providers will suggest patients with chronic or newly-acquired conditions seek needed follow-up. Many patients who need to seek life-saving treatments by specialists during the first year postpartum will be unable to afford it. This is why the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, along with maternal mortality review boards and many other professional associations across the country, continue to recommend extending Medicaid healthcare coverage to mothers for first year postpartum,” said Lacey Rose Miller, DNP, CNS, RNC-OB, C-EFM, Washington State Legislative Coordinator, Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses.

In recent years, the U.S. has made headlines for its disturbing and growing rate of maternal mortality. It was more dangerous to have a baby in 2018 than it was in 1985. According to the CDC, 700-900 American moms lose their lives every year to pregnancy or birth-related complications. According to statistics compiled by American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), more than half of these tragic deaths are entirely preventable.

Herrera Beutler’s bill, Preventing Maternal Deaths Act, was signed into law a year ago – a landmark piece of legislation and the largest successful step Congress has taken to combat maternal mortality. Her bill authorized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue the first round of grants to states to help with their efforts to combat maternal mortality. Washington state received $375,000.


Link to press release