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 BeutlerThe 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration 13 House Republicans who bucked Trump on emergency declaration House votes to overturn Trump's emergency declaration MORE (R-Wash.) and Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteDem support grows for allowing public funds to pay for abortions Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — FDA issues proposal to limit sales of flavored e-cigs | Trump health chief gets grilling | Divisions emerge over House drug pricing bills | Dems launch investigation into short-term health plans Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Dems push Pelosi on bill allowing federal funding of abortion | Key Republican says Dems left him out of drug pricing talks | Court upholds Ohio law to defund Planned Parenthood | Trump taps acting FDA chief 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 HeitkampRed dresses displayed around American Indian museum to memorialize missing, murdered native women Lobbying World Lobbying World MORE (D-N.D.) and Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoFCC claims on broadband access under scrutiny Senate GOP proposes constitutional amendment to keep Supreme Court at 9 seats Pence, GOP senators discuss offer to kill Trump emergency disapproval resolution MORE (R-W.Va.), though it passed out of committee earlier this year.