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Bill To Protect Pregnant Women, Newborns Intro'd


WASHINGTON -- New York Congressman Eliot Engel has introduced legislation designed to protect the health of pregnant women and newborn children.  The Partnering to Improve Maternity Care Quality Act would ensure higher-quality maternity services, improved health outcomes for women and children, and provide better value and efficiency for patients and health providers. 

“Every single person alive has been affected in one way or another by maternity care.  The beginning of life for newborns is fragile, even with technology today, and everything that we can do to better protect babies and their mothers are steps which should be taken.  Maternity care has significant health care consequences – in both the short and long term – for the more than 80% of women who give birth.  There are many conditions that relate directly to care during pregnancy and the point of birth that could be prevented from improved maternity care.  This legislation takes a huge leap forward in providing that care,” said Rep. Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health. 

“Getting high-quality care in the earliest stages of life leads to healthier development in childhood. Likewise, responsible maternity care can prevent childbirth-related health problems for mothers.  Evidence-based reforms to the maternity care payment process could save healthcare dollars and improve quality of care, and I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this bill,” said Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC-09), the lead co-sponsor.

Besides caring for people, there are serious financial implications related to the over 4.2 million births annually.  About 42% of all maternal hospital stays are billed to Medicaid, and over half of hospital discharges billed to Medicaid (or $39 billion) is for childbearing women and newborns.  From 1997 to 2007, pregnancy and childbirth discharges under Medicaid increased by 47 percent and newborn discharges increased by 55 percent. Maternity costs and quality also greatly impact employers, as private insurance covers care for about half of childbearing women and newborns.  

“Childbirth Connection commends Representatives Engel and Myrick for their bipartisan leadership in introducing this legislation, which would provide essential, targeted federal support to improve the quality of our nation’s maternity care system,” said Childbirth Connection Executive Director Maureen Corry, MPH.  “This measure could not be timelier as stakeholders seek ways to provide high-quality care within this large segment of the health care system and address growing pressures on Medicaid programs.  By fostering safe, effective evidence-based maternity services, this legislation would improve care for mothers and babies and improve value for taxpayers, the federal government, and the states, which pay for care of about 41% of the nation’s childbearing women and newborns.” 

The Partnering to Improve Maternity Care Quality Act would:

  • Identify an initialset of national, evidence-based, quality consensus measures that assess processes, outcomes, and the value of maternity care provided to Medicaid and CHIP (Child Health Plus) beneficiaries.  The Health and Human Services Secretary shall collaborate with stakeholders to develop, test, and validate needed measures;
     
  • Adapt the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) facility, provider, and health plan surveys to assess the experience of care of childbearing women and newborns;
     
  • Develop a standardized format for reporting to give feedback to providers and information to patients, purchasers, and policy makers, and request the voluntary reporting of maternity care quality measures;
     
  • Develop the initial maternity care Quality Data Set to enable electronic health records to routinely collect and report the maternity care quality measures;
     
  • Create a national demonstration project to identify and evaluate emerging payment reform mechanisms that support high-quality, high-value care (e.g. bundled payment for a full episode of care for women and newborns); and,
     
  • Authorize an Institute of Medicine (IoM) report to identify a package of essential evidence-based maternity care services for childbearing women and newborns.

“This bill would be a partnership with clinicians, consumers, advocates, payers and purchasers.  The benefits are numerous and the costs minimal.  I have long fought for improved health care for all Americans, and I plan to continue fighting to improve the many ways health care is provided for our citizens,” added Rep. Engel.


STORY TAGS: WOMEN, MINORITY, DISCRIMINATION, DIVERSITY, FEMALE, UNDERREPRESENTED, EQUALITY, GENDER BIAS, EQUALITY



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