In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult to drum up bipartisan support in the U.S. for federal legislation on various issues, including reproductive health. Yet Senators and Representatives continue to introduce, reintroduce, and sometimes even pass bills aimed at addressing unmet reproductive health needs and improving reproductive health outcomes, particularly among underserved and marginalized populations.
In December of 2018, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act was signed into law. The law establishes new and supports already-existing Maternal Mortality Review Committees (MMRCs) in states and tribal nations across the country. MMRCs are required to review every pregnancy-related death and develop recommendations to prevent future deaths. According to experts, “MMRCs are key to developing locally relevant strategies to eliminate maternal mortality”.
In May of 2019, Senator Booker and Representative Pressley reintroduced the “Maximizing Outcomes for Moms Through Medicaid Improvement and Enhancement of Services” or “Healthy MOMMIES” Act, which includes six Medicaid-related strategies to maximize maternal and infant health outcomes. It would: (1) extend CHIP and Medicaid coverage for pregnant women following childbirth; (2) establish and evaluate a Maternity Care Home Demonstration Project; (3) increase Medicaid coverage of doula care; (4) expand Medicaid coverage to services beyond pregnancy-related services; (5) increase Medicaid minimum reimbursement rates for maternal and obstetric services; and (6) increase access to maternity care through telemedicine.
In May of 2019, Senator Harris and Representative Adams reintroduced the “Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies” or “Maternal CARE” Act, which seeks to end preventable maternal complications and deaths and eliminate racial disparities in maternal health outcomes. Its two new grant programs would fund evidence-based implicit bias training at medical schools, nursing schools, etc. and pregnancy medical home (PMH) programs that identify high-risk pregnancies and provide mothers with the culturally competent care.
In September of 2019, Senator Smith and Representative Murkowski reintroduced the “Rural Maternal and Obstetric Modernization of Services” or “Rural MOMs” Act, which seeks to improve maternal health for women living in rural parts of the U.S. It would improve rural maternal and obstetric data collection, establish new and expand existing grants related to the creation of networks and use of telemedicine, and fund trainings for professionals who provide maternal care services in rural community-based settings.
In April of 2019, Senator Booker and Representative Maloney reintroduced a bill in response to the Trump Administration’s issuing of a final rule that threatens Title X patients’ access to a full range of contraception and reports of pharmacies in at least 25 states refusing to dispense contraception to patients. The bill would ensure that pharmacies provide in-stock contraceptives “to the customer without delay”, or assist the patient in accessing out-of-stock contraceptives.
In June of 2019, Senator Murray and Representative Pressley introduced legislation that would require insurance companies to cover birth control pills with no out-of-pocket costs if the Food and Drug Administration decides they can be made available without a prescription. It would build upon the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit, which requires insurers to cover all forms of birth control without copays but only applies with a doctor’s prescription.