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Friday, January 18 , 2019, 2:05 am | Fair 51º


Capps Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill to Increase Women’s Access to Maternity Health Care

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, and Republican Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas on Tuesday reintroduced the Improving Access to Maternity Act, H.R. 1209, a bipartisan bill that would increase women’s access to maternity health care in both urban and rural areas.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., introduced identical legislation in the Senate.

Currently, the National Health Service Corps provides loan repayment to physicians and other health care providers who work in areas designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA).

There are currently three categories of HPSAs — dental, mental health, and primary care. Most of these shortage areas are found in rural or urban communities where, due to geographic constraints or population density, there are not enough health care providers to fill basic health care needs. While maternal health care providers like obstetrician-gynecologists and certified nurse midwives participate in the program, they can only receive the loan repayment benefits if they work in a primary care shortage area.

This bill develops a fourth HPSA based specifically on maternity care, so that we can ensure that underserved communities have access to the health care professionals needed, filling those gaps in maternity health care for women in need.

“This bipartisan, commonsense bill will go a long way toward providing vital access to maternity care for women and their families,” Capps said. “I am proud to co-author this bill because as a nurse, I know firsthand the critical importance of providing early quality health care to expecting mothers, especially in underserved areas. Specifically, this bill will help ensure that we’re properly identifying maternal health provider shortage areas, and increasing access to high quality providers in those communities.”

“Our bill not only takes an important step towards allowing American women and their families the access to the proper care they need, but it also includes common-sense incentives for physicians to serve these areas,” Burgess said. “As an OB-GYN, I can attest that this is the type of legislation that benefits both for the doctor and the patient – it’s a win all around.”

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we’ve seen historic gains when it comes to providing maternity care coverage for women and families across America,” Baldwin said. “Unfortunately, rural and underserved communities are still facing a shortage of qualified, maternity care professionals and services. The Improving Access to Maternity Care Act will identify areas of shortage and inadequate access to help target resources so providers can deliver the type of care that communities in Wisconsin and across our country so desperately need. I’m proud to join this bipartisan effort to ensure that healthier pregnancies lead to healthier babies.”

“In Illinois, there is only one OB-GYN for every 3,660 women throughout the state, and many of our obstetric hospitals are understaffed,” Kirk said. “Though 63 new ob-gyns are trained annually in Illinois, the number of retiring providers is just as high. This bipartisan legislation incentivizes providers to care for mothers and babies in areas where the care is most needed.”

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

— Chris Meagher is a press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps.


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