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 BeutlerDems push to revive Congress' tech office Bill allowing Congress to hire Dreamers advances House fails to override Trump veto on border wall MORE (R-Wash.) and Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteLawmakers criticize EPA draft rule for curbing rights to challenge pollution permits Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Crucial for Congress to fund life-saving diabetes research 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 HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states Pence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa MORE (D-N.D.) and Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoCongress set to ignore Trump's wall request in stopgap measure America is in desperate need of infrastructure investment: Senate highway bill a step in the right direction On The Money: Economy adds 164K jobs in July | Trump signs two-year budget deal, but border showdown looms | US, EU strike deal on beef exports MORE (R-W.Va.), though it passed out of committee earlier this year.