Grassley’s new proposal seeks to improve maternal and child health services

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced Healthy Mothers and Babies Act to improve maternal and child health care. The United States has a maternal health crisis that particularly affects women of color and those living in rural America. The Healthy Mothers and Babies Act builds on Grassley’s longstanding efforts to improve maternal and child health by providing high-quality coordinated care, supporting women and babies with 21st-century technology and taking other steps to reduce maternal mortality.

“We need to do a better job of supporting expectant mothers and their babies,” Grassley said. “The Healthy Mothers and Babies Act will enable high quality coordinated care for our most vulnerable mothers. Through 21st century technology and community efforts, we can prevent maternal mortality and high-risk pregnancies—regardless of a mother’s zip code or economic status. As a strong supporter of the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program and stillbirth prevention efforts, I will continue to work with my colleagues to help expectant families.”

“Rural America is one of the most challenging environments to provide prenatal and obstetric care because people are so isolated. We are grateful to Senator Grassley for introducing a bill that will help address these challenges. Avera has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to serving women with the goal of healthy mothers, healthy babies and healthy families. Just one example is our use of telehealth to monitor gestational diabetes in rural areas. We fully recognize that mothers need access to high-quality antenatal care and careful management of conditions such as high blood pressure and gestational diabetes, regardless of their postcode. Telehealth and coordinated, holistic care are important tools as we strive to help mothers who cannot always afford to travel or take time off work for regular checkups.” said Kimberly McKay, MD, clinical vice president of Avera’s line of obstetrics and gynecology services. Avera, based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is a health system that covers a primarily rural footprint of 72,000 square miles in the Upper Midwest, with hospitals and clinics throughout northwest Iowa.

“The
Healthy Mothers and Babies Act will make great strides in expanding access to telehealth for expectant and postpartum women across the country. Maternal mortality is an alarming problem in this country, and the R Street Institute supports Senator Grassley’s innovative efforts using telehealth to address it.” said Anthony Lamorena, senior manager of federal affairs at the R Street Institute.

The background is on Healthy Mothers and Babies Act

The Healthy Mothers and Babies Act will improve maternal and child health care by:

  • Coordinating and delivering “whole person” care, supporting outcomes-based and community-based prevention and support efforts, including stillbirth prevention activities and expanding the maternal health workforce;
  • Modernizing maternal health care through telehealth to support women of color and women living in rural America; and
  • Reducing maternal mortality and high-risk pregnancies and improving our understanding of the social determinants of health in pregnant and postpartum women.

Additional information on the Grassley Healthy Mothers and Babies Act is available below:

Grassley’s ongoing work to improve maternal and child health

Grassley previously led legislation to reauthorize the bipartisan Maternal, Infant, and Young Child Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) and is working to secure another timely reauthorization this year.

In 2019, Iowa received a five-year grant from HRSA to strengthen partnerships and collaborations. This led to the establishment of a task force on maternal health, improved surveillance of state-level data on maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity, and the promotion and implementation of innovations in the delivery of maternal health services. Work in Iowa and other states will help inform best practices. The Healthy Mothers and Babies Act will build on the successes of this HRSA grant and other Iowa efforts.

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