FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 20, 2018
Contact: Maura Christopher
240-485-1822; [email protected]
The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) has achieved two of its key legislative priorities with Congress’ passage this month of two major maternal health bills. ACNM President Susan Stone, CNM, DNSc, FACNM, FAAN applauded both the House and Senate for taking these important steps to help turn the tide on crisis-level maternal mortality rates in the United States.
On Thursday, December 13, the US Senate unanimously passed the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act (H.R. 1318), which the House of Representatives passed on December 11. The bill increases funding to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish or strengthen maternal mortality review committees (MMRCs) in every state. The bill also mandates the inclusion of certified nurse-midwives (CNMs)/certified midwives (CMs) on the committees. H.R. 1318 now makes its way to the President for signature. On Thursday, December 6, the Senate passed the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act of 2017 (H.R. 315/S. 783), which the House previously passed. The legislation, which the President signed on December 16, addresses the maternity care provider shortage affecting many rural, underserved, and low-resource areas across the country.
“The American College of Nurse-Midwives thanks members of Congress for taking these important steps to address the untenable maternal health crisis in the United States and for recognizing the critical role that midwives can play in providing high-quality health care,” stated Dr. Stone. “The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act enables states to better identify and analyze pregnancy-associated and pregnancy-related deaths and maternal morbidities. This information is essential to driving a necessary sea change in the abhorrent maternal mortality and morbidity rates in the United States. It is especially critical for women of color, who experience these poor outcomes at three to four times the rate of white women.
Additionally, Dr Stone added, “Shortages of maternity care providers, which the Improved Access to Maternity Care Act addresses, can result in long wait times for appointments and long travel times to prenatal care and birthing sites, resulting in inadequate care for pregnant women. Midwives are ready and prepared to fill the gaps in access that currently exist across the country. As primary care providers for women throughout the lifespan, we can help alleviate the significant pressures on communities and health systems, and can serve the growing number of women in our population.”
The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act H.R. 1318, sponsored by Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and originally cosponsored by John Conyers Jr. (D-MI), Ryan Costello (R-PA), and Diana DeGette (D-CO) authorizes $12 million a year for five years in increased grant funding to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish or strengthen MMRCs in every state. MMRCs collect and analyze the causes of maternal mortality and morbidity during pregnancy, birth, and the first year postpartum. Additionally, the legislation, which ultimately gathered 192 cosponsors in the House, requires that the committees be composed of multidisciplinary, diverse memberships representing a variety of clinical specialties. The bill specifically mandates the inclusion of certified nurse midwives and certified midwives.
The Improving Access to Maternity Care Act of 2017 (H.R. 315/S. 783), introduced by Representatives Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), requires the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to identify areas with shortages of maternity care providers. This data can be used to create a maternity care health provider shortage area (HPSA) sub-designation within existing primary care HPSAs. Through these sub-designations, certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and women’s health nurse practitioners (WHNPs) participating in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) can be placed in these shortage areas to fill the gap in coverage and ensure access to essential maternal health care. Although this legislation does not specifically include certified midwives (CMs), ACNM continues to advocate for federal recognition of the CM, so that CMs can help fill the gap in access through federal programs such as NHSC.
The United States currently has the highest rate of maternal mortality among developed nations and ranks 47th in the world overall. Approximately 700 women die annually from pregnancy-related complications, according to the CDC. “ACNM volunteer leaders, members, and student advocates, along with our government affairs team, have worked tirelessly to gain passage of these bills,” Dr. Stone added. “Their perseverance has proved vital, and they have my deep appreciation. It’s a huge win, and America’s women and families will be safer for it.
With 6500 members, ACNM is the professional association that represents certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs) in the United States. ACNM promotes excellence in midwifery education, clinical practice, and research. With roots dating to 1929, our members are primary care providers for women throughout the lifespan, with a special emphasis on pregnancy, childbirth, and gynecologic and reproductive health. ACNM provides research, administers and promotes continuing education programs, establishes clinical practice standards, and creates liaisons with state and federal agencies and members of Congress to increase the visibility and recognition of midwifery care.