U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, introduced two bills this week to address maternal mortality — the Birth Access Benefitting Improved Essential Facility Services (BABIES) Act and the Midwives for Maximizing Optimal Maternity Services (MOMS) Act.
“With high rates of maternal mortality, preterm births, and lack of prenatal care for mothers, maternity care has reached a crisis level across our country,” Herrera Beutler said in a news release. “That’s why I’m proud to introduce both the Midwives for MOMS Act that will expand midwifery education to give moms increased access to quality maternal care, and the BABIES Act that will increase access to birth centers across the United States.”
The federal BABIES Act aims to create a payment program under Medicaid to reimburse birth centers for prenatal care, perinatal and postpartum mother and infant care. The Midwives for MOMS Act would create two new funding streams for midwifery education and would prioritize students from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds.
The U.S. has a higher maternal mortality rate than other countries comparable in wealth, and the March of Dimes reports that over 5 million U.S. women live in a “maternity care desert,” where hospitals don’t offer obstetric care, birthing services or specialized providers.
“Expecting moms in rural Iowa often cannot access the care they need during pregnancy for their infants once they are born. It’s heartbreaking that so many women haven’t been able to receive adequate maternal health services because they live in maternity care deserts,” said Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson, who is joining Herrera Beutler and other federal lawmakers to back the bills.