Washington, D.C. — Maureen G. Phipps, MD, MPH, FACOG, CEO of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), issued the following statement following passage of year-end legislation that excluded bipartisan maternal health legislation:
“ACOG denounces Congress’ failure to enact two critical pieces of bipartisan legislation that prioritized the lives of women and families and would have helped eliminate preventable maternal deaths in this country. Amid a global pandemic that threatens to worsen the maternal mortality crisis, Congress chose not to protect our nation’s mothers.
“The Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act (H.R. 4995) and the Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services Act (H.R. 4996) represent years of congressional and stakeholder collaboration to develop bipartisan legislation that will address our nation’s maternal health crisis.
“Although these bills are supported by legislators on both sides of the aisle and recently passed unanimously in the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate failed to advance them and Congress neglected to add them to the end-of-year legislative package. The United States is the only developed country with a rising maternal mortality rate. According to the CDC, approximately 700 women die each year from pregnancy-related complications—that’s two women per day. Congress’ inaction means the difference between life and death for women.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, which has further exposed and exacerbated racial health inequities, it is inconceivable that policymakers neglected the opportunity to pass meaningful legislation to eliminate racial disparities in maternal health outcomes.
“While we had hoped to celebrate a victory for America’s mothers before the end of 2020, we applaud the steadfast champions of House-passed H.R. 4995 and H.R. 4996, including Representatives Robin Kelly, PhD, Michael C. Burgess, MD, FACOG, Eliot Engel, Larry Bucshon, MD, Frank Pallone, Greg Walden, and Anna Eshoo. We commit to carry this work forward into the 117th Congress.”