Call for data-driven action to save lives
WASHINGTON—Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) opened today’s House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on “America’s Black Maternal Health Crisis” by emphasizing maternal mortality in America is unacceptable and must be addressed.
Comer said, “According to the CDC’s most recent available data, the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. for 2018 was 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. Maternal mortality for Black women is 2.5 times the ratio for white women and three times the ratio for Hispanic women. We all agree that this is unacceptable. The United States has one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world. We can and should have lower maternal mortality rates.”
In Congresswoman Virginia Foxx’s (R-N.C.) opening remarks, she emphasized the critical role data will play in determining the best steps forward to lower the maternal mortality rate for all Americans, as well as the need to address the shortage of OB-GYN care providers and ensure proper training.
Foxx said, “As the Ranking Member of the Education and Labor Committee, today I hope we can address the impending shortage of OB-GYN care providers and the lack of proper training and education for some in the healthcare industry. Currently, the U.S. and Canada have the lowest overall supply of midwives and obstetrician-gynecologists, or OB-GYNs, relative to comparable countries. There is expected to be a shortage between 3,000-9,000 physicians by 2030. We must act now to ensure this shortage does not get worse.”
Congresswoman Foxx continued saying, “One potential way to address a shortage of caretakers now is to utilize non-physician clinicians, such as midwives, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, especially for low-risk pregnancies. Expanding access to midwife care can improve access to maternity care in under-resourced areas, reduce interventions that contribute to risk of maternal mortality and morbidity, and lower the cost of care.”
Congresswoman Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) reiterated both Oversight Ranking Member Comer and Congresswoman Foxx’s points in her remarks. Congresswoman Mace discussed critical role of check-ins and subsequent care for mothers, especially those struggling with opioids and suicide.
Mace said, “Opioid use and suicide combined are the leading cause of death for mothers in the postpartum period. Data shows that one in five women experience maternal mental health conditions but 75 percent of those go undiagnosed and untreated. All childbearing women should be educated about and screened for postpartum mental health conditions throughout the relevant timeframe and have access to quality treatment options. Personally, with my firstborn, I didn’t have postpartum mental health issues. But, with my second, I experienced those firsthand. I cannot imagine for those women who do not have the resources or the ability to access health care professionals, to access those who could provide resources at a time of tremendous need. Those are things we’ve all got to address.”
Congresswoman Mace continued by addressing mothers specifically who are struggling. She said, “We are working to shine a light on your plight and the challenges you face today. They are real, and we want to be there to provide the resources we can at every level—national, state, and local. There are national and local organizations and providers, a few of which are represented here today, who are ready and willing to help you. Please do not be afraid to reach out for help if you are struggling.”
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Author: Amy Hasenberg