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Montana Section recognized for legislative success

Dr. William J. PetersWilliam J. Peters, MD, past District VIII chair and past Montana Section chair

The Montana Section received the Accomplishment in State Legislative Advocacy Award at the Congressional Leadership Conference in Washington, DC, in March. The award recognizes states who have demonstrated an impressive legislative accomplishment. The Montana Section was honored for its efforts to establish a formal maternal mortality review process.

Montana Section Bill Signing

Gov. Steve Bullock signs the Fetal, Infant, and Child Mortality Review Prevention Act amendment into law.

In 2011, increasing maternal deaths nationally and in Montana inspired the Montana Section to pursue a legislative initiative to amend the state’s Fetal, Infant, and Child Mortality Review (FICMR) Prevention Act to include maternal mortality review. The legislation, sponsored by State Rep. Liz Bangerter (R-Helena), passed the Montana House and Senate. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed the amendment into law on March 18, 2013.

The decision to seek an amendment to the existing FICMR Prevention Act rather than creating a new, separate maternal mortality review bill was important to the initiative’s success. By adding a maternal “M” to FICMR, a budget neutral bill was attained, which pleased the Legislature and the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS). Additionally, the FICMR legislation had existing non-disclosure, confidentiality, and peer review clauses built in, as well as an existing statewide infrastructure of 28 FICMR case review teams.

The successful two-and-a-half year endeavor was a result of Montana Section officers’ time, energy, and commitment and legislative expertise from ACOG, DPHHS, the Montana Medical Association, and our Montana Section lobbyist team provided by the Billings Clinic, Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, and the Montana Medical Association.