Congressman Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) today joined a bipartisan coalition in introducing H.R. 4243, the Rural MOMS Act of 2019, to improve health care access for new and expecting mothers in rural communities nationwide. The issue of “maternity care deserts” is important to Latta, and something he’s questioned health experts on as a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
This bipartisan bill will make important strides toward addressing rural maternal mortality and morbidity rates nationwide by expanding convenient and consistent access to health care services for pregnant women and new mothers in remote areas. The coalition introducing the bill includes Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM), Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA), Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK).
Congressman Latta released the following statement regarding this bill introduction:
“The rising number of women dying due to pregnancy-related complications is alarming and heartbreaking–and largely preventable. In rural areas, like many parts of my district, it can be difficult for women to access obstetric services they need before and after giving birth. With this important legislation, we’re utilizing teleheath, training, and reporting to better understand the root causes and help bring medical care to women when they need it most.”
The United States has some of the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world, with pregnant women and new mothers in rural areas, like much of Ohio’s 5th Congressional District, facing significantly higher chances of dying from causes related to pregnant or childbirth compared to their urban counterparts. For example, according to 2015 data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the maternal mortality rate in large central metropolitan areas was 18.2 per 100,000 live births when compared to 29.4 per 100,000 live births in the most rural areas.
The Rural MOMS Act will:
- Create Rural Maternal and Obstetric Care Data improvements by requiring the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to coordinate efforts around maternal mortality and morbidity, to report on women’s health conditions according to sociocultural and geographic contexts, and to emphasize research on pregnancy-related deaths.
- Award Rural Obstetric Network Grants to assist in the creation of regional innovation networks to address maternal mortality morbidity rates as well as birth outcomes.
- Expand Existing Federal Telehealth Grant Programs to include birth and postnatal services as part of telehealth networks, and utilize federal funding for the cost of ultrasound machines, fetal monitoring equipment, and other pregnancy-related technology by expanding the Federal Telehealth Grant Programs.
- Launch a Rural Maternal and Obstetric Care Training Demonstration for family medicine physicians, obstetricians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, midwives, doulas, and other medical professionals to provide maternal care services in rural community-based settings.
- Report on Maternal Care in Rural Areas to identify the locations of gaps in maternity care, recommendations to standardize data collection on maternal mortality and morbidity, and activities to improve maternal care in rural areas.