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Posted on April 3, 2014 | 2:28 p.m.

Capps Co-Sponsors Bill to Increase Women’s Access to Maternity Health Care

Source: Chris Meagher for Rep. Lois Capps

Rep. Lois Capps, M.D., D-Santa Barbara, and Rep. Michael Burgess, M.D., of Texas on Thursday introduced the Improving Access to Maternity Act, a bipartisan bill that would increase women’s access to maternity health care in urban and rural areas.

Currently, the National Health Service Corps provides loan repayment to physicians and other health professionals who agree to work in areas designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas. There are currently three designated HPSAs — dental, mental health and primary care. Most of these shortage areas are found in rural areas or urban areas where, due to geographic constraints or population density, there are not enough health care providers to fill basic health-care needs.

Currently, maternal health care providers like obstetrician gynecologists and certified nurse midwives participate in the program, but are only eligible to practice in primary care shortage areas.

This bill develops a fourth HPSA based specifically on maternity care, so that these health care professionals are incentivized to work in the communities that need them most, filling those gaps in maternity health care for women in need.

“I am proud to have co-authored this important, common-sense bill because as a nurse, I know firsthand the critical importance of providing quality health care to women who are pregnant, especially in underserved areas,” Capps said. “This bipartisan bill would go a long way in providing access to this type of care for women and their families, while also ensuring that quality, hardworking medical care professionals caring for these families are adequately incentivized to work in these rural and urban areas that need them.”

“Every woman deserves quality health care, especially during a pregnancy,” Burgess said. “This legislation will be a huge step in identifying areas of need and addressing these shortcomings in our health care system, so that American women and their families are able to get the care they need. Furthermore, as a physician, I can remember the long hours and hefty loans that come with being a doctor. This legislation would the financial burden for hard-working physicians who have pledged to provide the best care for their patients.”

The Improving Access to Maternity Care Act is supported by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

Chris Meagher is the press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.

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