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 MurrayOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Dems blast rulemaking on family planning program | Facebook may remove anti-vaccine content | Medicare proposes coverage for new cancer treatment Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators seek answers on surprise medical bills | Red states move to limit Medicaid expansion | Two drug companies agree to testify Senate Dems block Sasse measure meant to respond to Virginia bill MORE (Wash.) said Tuesday. 

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoDems slam EPA plan for fighting drinking water contaminants GOP senator: Border deal is 'a very good compromise' Push to include contractor back pay in funding deal hits GOP roadblock MORE (R-W.Va.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction 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 BeutlerHouse Dems unveil initial GOP targets in 2020 House votes on 10th bill to reopen government House does redo vote on bill to reopen government MORE (R-Wash.). A committee spokesperson said last week concerns were still being worked through with members.