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July 31, 2019

Senator Doug Jones Cosponsors New Bipartisan Bill to Improve Access to Rural Health Care for New and Expecting Moms

Legislation would provide training for medical professionals, work to end rural disparities in maternal health

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Doug Jones today cosponsored the bipartisan Rural MOMS Act to understand the root causes of maternal mortality and to develop solutions to improve maternal care in rural America.

“As I’ve traveled around Alabama to hear directly from women and health care providers about how we can improve maternal health outcomes in the state, they consistently raise concerns about the shortages of doctors and hospitals in rural areas,” said Senator Jones, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “This legislation provides real solutions by expanding care through telehealth grants, and other programs to increase the number of health care providers in rural areas, and takes important steps to address our unacceptable rate of maternal mortality in this country.”

The Rural MOMS Act would: 

  • Improve Rural Maternal and Obstetric Care Data by directing the Centers for Disease Control to coordinate efforts with respect to maternal mortality and morbidity, to report on women’s health conditions according to sociocultural and geographic contexts, and to emphasize research on pregnancy-related deaths.
  • Award New Rural Obstetric Network Grants to establish regional innovation networks to improve maternal mortality and morbidity as well as birth outcomes.
  • Expand Existing Federal Telehealth Grant Programs to include birth and postpartum services as part of telehealth networks and to allow federal funding to be used for ultrasound machines, fetal monitoring equipment, and other pregnancy-related technology.
  • Establish a New Rural Maternal and Obstetric Care Training Demonstration to support training for family medicine physicians, obstetricians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, midwives, doulas, and other professionals to provide maternal care services in rural community-based settings.
  • Report on Maternal Care in Rural Areas to identify the locations of gaps in maternity care, disparities in maternal health in rural areas by race and ethnicity, recommendations to standardize data collection on maternal mortality and morbidity, and activities to improve maternal care in rural areas.

Senator Jones has taken a number of actions to increase access to quality, affordable health care and specifically to improve maternal care in Alabama, including:

  • Introducing legislation to incentivize Alabama to expand Medicaid;
  • Successfully making the case to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to change the unfair Medicare wage index, which disproportionately hurts Alabama’s financially strained hospitals;
  • Introducing a bipartisan bill to address the nursing shortage in rural areas;
  • Introducing legislation to ensure women can access affordable health care coverage during and after pregnancy;   
  • Introducing a bill to stop the maternal mortality crisis for black women.
  • Cosponsoring a bill to expand Medicaid coverage for mothers for one year postpartum.  

You can view the bill here.

Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) introduced the bill and Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) joined Senator Jones as cosponsors.

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