Clinical Review

Targeting US maternal mortality: ACOG’s recent strides and future action

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In addition, ACOG worked with Congress to secure $50 million in federal funding to reduce maternal mortality, allocated thusly:

  • $12 million to support state MMRCs
  • $3 million to support the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health
  • $23 million for State Maternal Health Innovation Program grants
  • $12 million to address maternal mortality in the Healthy Start program.

As these federal congressional initiatives worked their way into law, the states actively supported MMRCs as well. As of this writing, only 3 states—North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming—have not yet developed an MMRC.3

Filling the gaps in ObGyn care. Another key ACOG-sponsored bill signed into law will help bring more ObGyns into shortage areas. Sponsored by Rep. Burgess, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act (Public Law No. 115-320) requires the Department of Health and Human Services to identify maternity health professional target areas for use by the National Health Service Corps to bring ObGyns to where they are most needed.

Following up on that new law, ACOG currently is working closely with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) on the unique challenges women in rural areas face in accessing maternity and other women’s health care services. In June, Dr. Hollier represented ACOG at the Rural Maternal Health forum, which was convened by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and sponsored by ACOG, AAFP, and NRHA.4 We are pursuing policies designed to increase the number of ObGyns and other physicians who choose to train in rural areas and increase the clinical use of telehealth to help connect rural physicians and patients with subspecialists in urban areas.

Projects in the works

Congress is ready to do more. Already, 5 ACOG-supported bills have been introduced, including bills that extend women’s Medicaid coverage to 12 months postpartum (consistent with coverage for babies), support state perinatal quality collaboratives, and more. This interest is augmented by the work of the recently formed congressional Black Maternal Health Caucus, focused on reducing racial disparities in health care. In July, ACOG joined 12 members of Congress in a caucus summit to partner with these important congressional allies.

ACOG is expanding support for these legislative efforts through our work with another important ally, the American Medical Association (AMA). ACOG’s delegation to the 2019 Annual Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates in June scored important policy wins, including AMA support for Medicaid coverage for women 12 months postpartum and improving access to care in rural communities.

There is momentum on Capitol Hill to take action on these important issues, and ACOG’s priority is to ensure that any legislative package complements the important work many ObGyns are already doing to improve maternal health outcomes. ACOG has an important seat at the table and will continue to advocate each and every day for your practices and your patients as Congress deliberates legislative action.

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