Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the bipartisan FY 2020 appropriations package includes $22 million in funding to address the maternal mortality and postpartum depression crises in New York and across the country. Specifically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was awarded $12 million to support state-run Maternal Mortality Review Committees. These committees are comprised of local public health experts who study maternal deaths to better understand their causes, identify solutions to prevent further deaths, and improve the quality of maternity care. The package also includes a key provision from Gillibrand’s Modernizing Obstetric Medicine Standards (MOMS) Act that provides $5 million of funding for the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) program to implement evidence-based toolkits to improve maternal outcomes. Gillibrand’s request for $5 million for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) program for the Screening and Treatment for Maternal Depression was also included in the final FY20 appropriations bill.
“Maternal mortality in our country is an epidemic. We must do everything in our power to address the high and rising rates of maternal deaths and complications throughout pregnancy and childbirth,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am proud to have fought for this important funding in the just-passed appropriations bill to support states as they work to combat this epidemic by investigating maternal deaths. I am especially pleased that this legislation includes a critical provision from my bill, the MOMS Act, to fund and expand the AIM program to help implement evidenced-based standards to improve maternal health care for all women. We must do more, and I will continue supporting women across the country to ensure they are safe before, during, and after they give birth.”
Senator Gillibrand is a champion for the health and rights of mothers and their families. Earlier this year, she reintroduced her Modernizing Obstetric Medicine Standards (MOMS) Act, which would help reduce maternal deaths and complications in the United States by providing funding to states and hospitals to develop and implement standardized maternal safety best practices, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to prevent and respond to complications occurring before, during, and after childbirth.
The maternal mortality rate in the United States has been increasing with an increase in maternal deaths of 26 percent between 2000 and 2014. Each year it is estimated that there are at least 50,000 women who experience a complication during childbirth, and according to the CDC, an estimated 60 percent of these deaths and complications are preventable. Additionally, more black women die from pregnancy-related complications in the United States than in any other developed nation. An NPR and ProPublica report found that for every woman who dies in childbirth in the United States, there are 70 women who nearly die. Postpartum depression (PPD) affects 1 in 9 women in the United States. PPD can lead to maternal suicide which is a greater cause of maternal mortality than hemorrhaging or hypertension. PPD is treatable with behavioral health interventions and/or pharmacologic therapy, but nearly 60 percent of women with symptoms currently do not receive a diagnosis and 50 percent with a diagnosis do not receive any treatment.
Maternal Mortality Review Committees (MMRCs) are state-led committees comprised of local public health professionals and experts who review maternal deaths to better understand their causes and help identify solutions to prevent further deaths and improve the quality of maternity care. CDC funding for these committees provides technical assistance and data collection. The Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) is a program that works with states and hospital systems to implement evidence-based bundles on a range of important maternal safety topics including obstetric hemorrhage, severe hypertension in pregnancy, maternal mental health, obstetric care for women with opioid use disorder, and education of peripartum racial and ethnic disparities.
The full text of Gillibrand’s letters to Senate Appropriators may be found here and here.