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Burgess Leads Bipartisan Group in Introducing Bill to Improve Access to Maternity Care

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Washington, March 3, 2015 | Jill Shatzen Kerr (202-225-7772) | comments
Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) today led a group of bipartisan, bicameral members of Congress in introducing legislation to improve access to maternity care for patients in rural and under-served areas.
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Washington, D.C. – Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) today led a group of bipartisan, bicameral members of Congress in introducing legislation to improve access to maternity care for patients in rural and under-served areas. 

The bill, known as the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act (H.R. 1209 and S. 628), aims to reduce professional maternity care shortages by incentivizing providers to practice in these rural areas to the tune of a $50,000 student loan repayment. In exchange, they would agree to two years of service in an area experiencing care shortages. The bill would create a maternity care health professional shortage (HPSA) designation. 

Burgess, who introduced a similar bill last year, was joined in this effort by U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WA), along with Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA).

The bill addresses alarming statistics, such as the fact that babies born to mothers who received no prenatal care are three times more likely to be low birth weight and are five times more likely to die than babies whose mothers received care. 

In Texas, there has been virtually no increase in the number of OB-GYNs trained since 1980, yet the population of women in the United States has increased by a quarter during that time. An alarming number of women who live in rural communities in Texas are more than 60 minutes away from a hospital offering perinatal services.

“Our bill not only takes an important step towards allowing American women and their families the access to the proper care they need, but it also includes common-sense incentives for physicians to serve these areas,” Burgess said. “As an OB-GYN, I can attest that this is the type of legislation that benefits both for the doctor and the patient – it’s a win all around.” 

"In Illinois, there is only one OB-GYN for every 3,660 women throughout the state, and many of our obstetric hospitals are understaffed," Kirk said. "Though 63 new ob-gyns are trained annually in Illinois, the number of retiring providers is just as high. This bipartisan legislation incentivizes providers to care for mothers and babies in areas where the care is most needed."

“The Improving Access to Maternity Care Act will identify areas of shortage and inadequate access to help target resources so providers can deliver the type of care that communities in Wisconsin and across our country so desperately need,” Baldwin said. “I’m proud to join this bipartisan effort to ensure that healthier pregnancies lead to healthier babies.”

“This bipartisan, common-sense bill will go a long way toward providing vital access to maternity care for women and their families,” Capps said. “I am proud to co-author this bill because as a nurse, I know firsthand the critical importance of providing early quality health care to expecting mothers, especially in under-served areas. Specifically, this bill will help ensure that we’re properly identifying maternal health provider shortage areas, and increasing access to high quality providers in those communities.”

“Access to quality maternal care is essential for healthy mothers and healthy babies in America. Unfortunately,in under-served parts of our country, expecting women face shortages of qualified maternity care providers, including OB-GYNs,” John C. Jennings, President of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said. “The Improving Access to Maternity Care Act will help respond to the needs of under-served American women and will bring more equality to maternal care in America.”

H.R. 1209 and S. 628 are endorsed by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM). 

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