Lawmaker: Bill tackling maternal death rates to get vote before August
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) is confident her bill aimed at addressing increasing maternal death rates can pass, and says she has a commitment from leadership that a vote on the House floor will occur before August.
“I’m in the trust but verify camp, so if you’re helping us advocate for this, don’t let up,” Herrera Beutler said Tuesday at an event hosted by The Hill and sponsored by AMAG Pharmaceuticals.
Deaths related to pregnancy are on the rise in the U.S., and the rates are higher than other developed countries.
There’s also a racial disparity in the U.S., as the risk of pregnancy-related death is three to four times higher in black women than in white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The office of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the commitment.
At the event, Herrera Beutler detailed her bill aimed at tracking and investigating pregnancy-related deaths in every state in an effort to understand why women are dying.
Specifically, the bill would help states establish or support Maternal Mortality Review Committees to examine these deaths and finds ways to prevent them.
“Some states have them, but not all states are sharing the same information, they’re not collecting the same data,” Herrera Beutler said.
“We’re going to standardize it a bit and allow for a national collection, provide just enough money so everybody can do it, it’s not going to break the bank, but it’s going to give every state the opportunity to investigate every maternal death.”
In the House, the bill has garnered 137 cosponsors — 105 Democrats and 32 Republicans. There’s also a companion bill in the Senate, and the top Democrat on the Senate Health Committee, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), has said the panel plans to hold a vote on the bill.
“I think there’s legislation moving in the Senate, so this stands an awesome chance of being signed into law, and honestly I’m not so worried about whose vehicle it is if we can get it,” she said.
At the event, Herrera Beutler detailed how, while she was pregnant, doctors told her her baby didn’t have any kidneys. The baby would not survive, doctors said.
She fought to find a doctor who would try an experimental treatment. It worked, and her daughter now often visits the House floor, even asking why her name doesn’t appear on the screen in the chamber recording lawmakers’ votes. (When told that she has to run for office first, her daughter responded that she wants to run for her mom’s seat.)