Stivers: Federal policies needed to improve nation’s maternal and infant mortality rates

With Ohio ranked eighth in the nation for highest number of infant deaths and the nation’s numbers also continuing to rise, U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) said lawmakers must do more to implement comprehensive policies that will ensure safe deliveries for mothers and a strong start for babies.

“There are many things that make me proud to be an Ohioan, but our infant mortality rate is not one of them,” Rep. Stivers wrote in a Feb. 26 opinion piece, pointing out that the United States also is the only developed country in which maternal mortality rates continue to increase, while decreasing globally.

“We are losing about 700 women a year to pregnancy-related complications and about 60,000 women endure severe pregnancy-related complications each year,” he wrote.

Rep. Stivers has introduced two bipartisan bills to help rectify the situation.

In November 2019 he signed on as an original cosponsor of the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act of 2019, H.R. 4995, with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) to improve obstetric care and maternal health outcomes.

H.R. 4995 passed out of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee and awaits action by the full U.S. House of Representatives.

“This bill would directly address this nationwide crisis,” Rep. Stivers wrote, noting that the bill’s grants would provide community-based organizations with tools to improve training for prenatal care, labor care, birthing, and postpartum care.

“Beyond that, this legislation will provide additional grants to address complications experienced by mothers in rural and underserved areas,” he wrote. “This funding will be instrumental in improving telehealth resources and networks, solutions experts have proven to save lives.”

Rep. Stivers also cosponsored the Healthy Start Reauthorization Act of 2019, H.R. 4801, with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) to reauthorize the Healthy Start Program, which uses a community-based approach to provide women and families with healthcare and education services.

Both bills, the congressman said, would offer thousands of Americans a healthy start. “Ultimately, we all share the goal of strong, healthy families,” he wrote.