Senate panel to vote next month on maternal mortality bill

Senate panel to vote next month on maternal mortality bill
© Greg Nash

The Senate Health Committee will vote on a bill next month addressing increasing maternal death rates in the U.S., ranking member Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDems launch pressure campaign over migrant families Jane Fonda: Kavanaugh confirmation would be a 'catastrophe' Dems rip Trump DOJ nominee who represented Russian bank MORE (Wash.) said Tuesday. 

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoSenate takes symbolic shot at Trump tariffs America must act to ensure qualified water workforce Overnight Health Care: Big win at Supreme Court for anti-abortion centers | HHS chief grilled on migrant children | Boom time for ObamaCare insurers? MORE (R-W.Va.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampDoug Jones walks tightrope on Supreme Court nominee Red-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE (D-N.D.), would support state-level efforts to form review committees that specifically track and investigate pregnancy-related deaths, and then look for ways to prevent future deaths from occurring. 

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"It is unacceptable that in the United States of America in the 21st Century, maternal mortality rates are increasing, and increasing at higher rates for women of color," Murray said during a Health Committee hearing Tuesday. 

"I'm glad to know we have members on both sides of the aisle who understand how important this is for families across the country, and that we've agreed to keep working on a bill that's championed by Sens. Heitkamp and Capito for markup next month." 

Lobbyists had pushed to have the bill included in the opioid package that the committee is marking up Tuesday, but that didn't materialize. 

The legislation, and its counterpart in the House, was introduced nearly a year ago, but has fallen by the wayside as Congress focused on other pressing health care issues, like the opioid crisis and ObamaCare stabilization. 

The delay has frustrated advocates, who note that the U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate among industrialized countries. 

These deaths still aren’t widely tracked across the U.S.; the legislation would standardize current state efforts to do so and help states that don’t have committees create them through grants from the Department of Health and Human Services. 

It's not clear when the House Energy and Commerce Committee will take up House's version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerForcing faith-based agencies out of the system is a disservice to women Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges — Governors criticize Trump move on pre-existing conditions GOP lawmaker looks to address racial disparities in maternal mortality rates MORE (R-Wash.). A committee spokesperson said last week concerns were still being worked through with members.