The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ 36th annual Congressional Leadership Conference was held in Washington March 11-13 with the theme “Facts are important: Women’s health is no exception.”
Approximately 630 fellows, junior fellows, and medical students attended, with 50% of those present being junior fellows. Another 50% were at the CLC for the first time. Forty-nine states were represented. There were a total of 359 meetings with members of Congress, including senators and representatives.
The first day and a half was spent learning about advocacy and current women’s health issues that should be addressed by Congress. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) discussed her cosponsorship of the House bill, H.R. 1318, the “Preventing Maternal Deaths Act.” The bill authorizes the CDC to provide $7 million annually for grants to states for Maternal Mortality Review Committees (MMRC) in order to create, expand, or support a committee that will collect data so the causes of maternal mortality can be determined and reviewed in each state.
One of the two “asks” for the CLC attendees was to discuss maternal mortality and ask their representatives to cosponsor H.R. 1318 and their senators to cosponsor S. 1112, the “Maternal Health Accountability Act.”
With more women dying from pregnancy complications in the United States than any other developed country, maternal mortality needs to be assessed. Currently 33 states have MMRC while 11 states and the District of Columbia are in the process of establishing the committee.
The rate of maternal mortality has increased from 18.8 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2000 to 23.8 per 100,000 in 2014. African American women are three to four times more likely than non-Hispanic white women to die of pregnancy-related or associated complications in the United States. Causes of maternal death include preeclampsia, hemorrhage, overdosage, and suicide with the leading cause varying from one state to the next.
Sara Rosenbaum, professor of health law and policy at George Washington University, Washington, presented “Medicaid. Facts Matter to Women’s Health.” Rebekah Gee, MD, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health discussed health care from a state’s perspective.