Energy and House GOP members request more details on maternal mortality, morbidity

U.S. Reps. Greg Walden (R-OR), Michael Burgess (R-TX), and Larry Bucshon (R-IN), all members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, recently requested that committee leaders schedule a follow-up legislative hearing on maternal mortality and morbidity in the United States.

“Despite massive innovation in health care and advancements in technology, over the last two decades, the number of American women who die each year from a pregnancy-related cause has increased dramatically,” wrote Reps. Walden, Burgess, and Bucshon, who were joined by U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) in signing an Oct. 11 letter sent to committee majority leaders.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System shows that the number of reported pregnancy-related deaths in the United States has steadily increased from 7.2 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1987 to a high of 17.8 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2009 and 2011, according to their letter.

“Persistent racial disparities in the maternal morbidity and mortality are even more alarming, as black and American Indian/Alaska Native women are about three times as likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause as white women,” the congressmen wrote.

The lawmakers also called for consideration of the bipartisan Excellence in Maternal Health Act of 2019, H.R. 4215, introduced on Aug. 30 by Rep. Bucshon and supported by 13 cosponsors, including Reps. Burgess, Walden, Guthrie, and lead Democrat U.S. Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana. U.S. Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Billy Long (R-MO) are also original cosponsors of the bill.

If enacted, H.R. 4215 would improve maternal health care quality via better training of health care professionals to reduce or prevent discrimination in certain health care services, and improve perinatal care, according to the bill’s text.

The lawmakers noted in their letter that H.R. 4215 was not among the four bills considered during the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Sept. 10 hearing, “Improving Maternal Health: Legislation to Advance Prevention Efforts and Access to Care.”

“While the September maternal mortality hearing was a good first step, it was an incomplete effort,” wrote the lawmakers. “Much more work needs to be done, and we urge you to hold a second legislative hearing on maternal mortality.”