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Stabenow, Engel Introduce Bill To Protect Pregnant Women And Newborns

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Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) and Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act to ensure higher-quality maternity services, improve health outcomes for women and children, and provide better value and efficiency for patients and health providers.

"We all have a stake in healthy moms and healthy babies. Maternity care is critical to the health of women across the country, and it is even more important for their babies, so they can have a healthy start in life," said Senator Stabenow. "We have a responsibility not only to make sure that moms and babies get the best possible care, but also to make sure that we are holding Medicaid accountable by measuring and evaluating its performance and by giving providers the tools they need to improve care. This bill provides important opportunities to improve the quality of care for women and newborns."

"All of us have been affected in one way or another by maternity care, and everything that we can do to better protect babies and their mothers are steps which should be taken. Maternity care has significant health care consequences - in both the short and long term - for the women who give birth. Many negative consequences could be prevented by improved maternity care. This legislation makes a significant improvement in providing that care," said Rep. Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health. "This bill would be a partnership with clinicians, consumers, advocates, insurers and providers. The benefits are numerous and the costs minimal. I have long fought for improved health care for all Americans, and I plan to continue fighting to improve the many ways health care is provided for our citizens."

"Childbirth Connection commends Representative Engel, Senator Stabenow, and Senator Menendez for their leadership in introducing this legislation, which would provide essential, targeted federal support to improve the quality of our nation's maternity care system," said Childbirth Connection Executive Director Maureen Corry, MPH. "This legislation could not be timelier as stakeholders seek ways to provide high-quality care within this large segment of the health care system and address growing pressures on Medicaid programs. By fostering safe, effective, evidence-based maternity services, this legislation would improve care for mothers and babies and improve value for taxpayers, the federal government, and the states, which pay for care of about 40% of the nation's childbearing women and newborns."

"ACOG President James N. Martin, MD said today, 'Senator Stabenow, Senator Menendez, and Representative Engel have shown tremendous leadership in developing this bill, expressly aimed at improving the health of moms and babies. The Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act would bring our Nation closer to our goal of ensuring that every pregnancy is healthy and every baby is born safely.'"

Nearly a quarter of all hospitalizations are related to childbearing women and newborns, and more than 40 percent of them are covered by Medicaid. Hospital visits for pregnancy and childbirth in Medicaid increased by almost 50 percent from 1997 to 2007. This has both health implications for women and newborns and financial implications for families, employers, and taxpayers. Unfortunately, there are currently significant gaps in the ways that maternity care quality is measured. The Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act will address these gaps and provide immediate opportunities for rapid gains in the quality and health outcomes of maternity care. It will:

* Identify an initial core set of evidence-based, quality performance measures for reporting under Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, and adapt the Consumer Assessment of Health Care Providers and Systems (CAHPS) program surveys to better measure the experiences of child bearing women.
* Support the creation and expansion of maternity care quality collaboratives that increase use of evidence-based guidelines, and have led to reductions in costly medical interventions and improved linkages between hospital and community-based medicine.
* Establish a national demonstration project to test new models for maternity specific medical homes, which have already been shown to improve care for patients in other settings.

The Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act is supported by the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Amnesty International USA, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric & Neonatal Nurses, the Black Women's Health Imperative, the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform, Childbirth Connection, the International Center for Traditional Childbirth, the Midwives Alliance of North America, the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives, the National Committee for Quality Assurance, the National Partnership for Women & Families, and The Leapfrog Group.

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