Urge House and Senate Enactment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Silver Spring, MD; Washington, DC—The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) applaud the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health for its approval of the “Improving Access to Maternity Care Act of 2015 (H.R.1209/S. 628),” introduced by Representatives Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX) and Lois Capps (D-CA) and Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).
Across the United States, major pockets exist where women do not have adequate access to maternity care. As a result, more than half of women living in rural communities must travel over 30 minutes to the nearest hospital offering perinatal services. In response, the “Improving Access to Maternity Care Act of 2015” seeks to determine areas throughout the U.S. that are experiencing a significant shortage of full scope maternity care professionals, including certified nurse-midwives (CNMs)/certified midwives (CMs) and Ob-Gyns, and eliminate those gaps.
“It’s a travesty that in this country 40 percent of counties have neither a CNM/CM nor an Ob-Gyn, yet millions of women live in these areas,” said ACNM Board President Lisa Kane Low, CNM, PhD, FACNM, FAAN. “Shortages of maternity care providers can result in long waiting times for appointments and/or long travel times to prenatal care and birthing sites, resulting in inadequate care for pregnant women. CNMs/CMs are ready to fill the gaps in access that currently exist, particularly in rural areas of the US. These maternity care providers can help alleviate the significant pressures on communities and health systems, and can serve the growing number of women in our population.”
To help eliminate regional gaps in women’s healthcare providers, the bill would ensure that CNMs and Ob-Gyns who currently participate in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) are placed in the areas, identified by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) with maternity care shortages, where their unique skills are most needed.
“Every year, more than one million babies are born to mothers who were unable to access adequate prenatal care. These women and babies face unnecessary risks simply because care is inaccessible,” said ACOG President, Dr. Thomas Gellhaus, MD, FACOG. “The expansion of NHSC to include maternity care provides essential support to women’s health care providers, ensuring we can be in the regions where we are needed most. This is a critical first step to guaranteeing all women and babies have access to safe and quality care.”
Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA) said, “Healthy babies start with healthy moms. But there are still too many communities across the country with a shortage of maternity care providers. Our bill would help address this gap by pinpointing these areas of need and matching them with maternity care providers in the National Health Service Corps. This vote puts us one step closer to ensuring every child has a healthy start in life.”
"In Illinois, there is only one Ob-Gyn for every 3,660 women throughout the state, leaving many rural and underserved communities without qualified maternity care professionals,” Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) said. “I urge the Senate to take immediate action to pass this important bipartisan legislation in order to incentivize providers to care for new families where it is most needed.
”Congressman Mike Burgess (TX-26) said, “Consistent, high-quality maternity care is of the utmost importance for both a mother and baby during pregnancy. H.R. 1209 is an important step in addressing critical shortages of maternity care providers across the country. I appreciate the dedication of professional organizations, like ACNM and ACOG, for their work in advancing this important piece of legislation.”
“I am glad to see the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act move forward in the House of Representatives. Our rural and underserved communities are facing a shortage of qualified maternity care professionals and comprehensive services, and this bipartisan bill, which I am proud to champion in the Senate, is critical to help address these gaps for women and their families,” Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) said. “It would help to better target areas of need so that providers can deliver the type of care that communities in Wisconsin and across our country so desperately need. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to take timely action on this bipartisan bill.”
ACNM and ACOG call upon both the House and Senate to pass the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act before the end of this year.
With nearly 7800 members, ACNM is the professional association that represents certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs) in the United States. ACNM promotes excellence in midwifery education, clinical practice, and research. With roots dating to 1929, our members are primary care providers for women throughout the lifespan, with a special emphasis on pregnancy, childbirth, and gynecologic and reproductive health. ACNM provides research, administers and promotes continuing education programs, establishes clinical practice standards, and creates liaisons with state and federal agencies and members of Congress to increase the visibility and recognition of midwifery care.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 57,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization. www.acog.org