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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 BeutlerHouse Hispanic Republicans welcome four new members GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler wins reelection Mild weather could boost voter turnout on Election Day MORE (R-Wash.) and Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteBipartisan lawmakers call for expedited diabetes research The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Dems push McConnell on COVID-19 relief; Grassley contracts COVID-19 Overnight Health Care: Schumer, Pelosi want Heroes Act as 'starting point' in new COVID-19 relief talks | Labs warn of possible delays in test results amid surge in demand | Federal government partners with pharmacies for coronavirus vaccine distribution 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 HeitkampMajor unions back Fudge for Agriculture secretary Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' in new administration MORE (D-N.D.) and Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoAs Biden administration ramps up, Trump legal effort drags on The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump holds his last turkey pardon ceremony The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience MORE (R-W.Va.), though it passed out of committee earlier this year.