House passes bipartisan bill aimed at reversing rising maternal mortality rates

The House on Tuesday passed a bipartisan bill aimed at reversing the maternal mortality crisis in the U.S. in what supporters say is the strongest action yet that Congress has taken on the issue.

The bill from Reps. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerWashington state lawmakers warn health workers running low on protective gear Pelosi: 'I tore up a manifesto of mistruth' DCCC unveils initial dozen candidates for 'Red to Blue' program MORE (R-Wash.) and Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteHillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database Trump names Pence to lead coronavirus response Hillicon Valley: Democrats cancel surveillance vote over pushback to amendments | Lawmakers grill Ticketmaster, StubHub execs over online ticketing MORE (D-Colo.) would support state-level efforts to track and investigate pregnancy-related deaths, and then look for ways to prevent future deaths from occurring.

The U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality among developed countries, at a rate of 26.4 deaths per 100,000 births. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 60 percent of maternal deaths are preventable.

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The bill allows the Department of Health and Human Services to award grants to states to establish Maternal Mortality Review Committees that review every pregnancy-related or pregnancy-associated death.

Herrera Beutler and DeGette, in a joint statement, called the bill's House passage the “strongest step Congress has taken to date” to reverse the maternal mortality crisis.

“By providing states with resources to investigate every maternal death, we can begin to tackle this troubling trend and take appropriate steps to prevent such tragedies in the future,” they said. “We must improve our understanding of why mothers are dying in pregnancy, during childbirth and postpartum so we can then unleash every possible resource to protect women in this critical season of life."

The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine said the committees are the “best way to understand why maternal mortality in the United States is increasing.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists President Lisa Hollier said the bill is a crucial step toward reversing the rising rate.

“No more pregnant and postpartum women should die from preventable causes,” she said.

It’s not clear when, or if, the Senate will vote on its companion bill, authored by outgoing Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn Heitkamp70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents Susan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA MORE (D-N.D.) and Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoState Department under fire as 13K Americans remain stranded abroad Senators balance coronavirus action with risks to health Heidi Klum says she tried to get a coronavirus test: 'I just can't get one' MORE (R-W.Va.), though it passed out of committee earlier this year.