Luján Cosponsors Bipartisan Bill to Improve Access to Rural Health Care for New & Expecting Moms
Nambé, N.M. – U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) joined Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to introduce bipartisan legislation that would help ensure that new and expecting moms living in rural communities get the care they need.
More than half of rural counties nationwide lack hospitals with labor and birthing services, and the disparity in access to care and worse health outcomes disproportionally affects people of color. Rural counties with more Black residents are at greater risk of losing their labor and delivery services.
“In New Mexico, there are far too many rural communities that lack adequate health services for pregnant women, forcing them to travel long distances to find care,” said Senator Luján. “With so many exciting moments ahead for expecting mothers and their families, they should not be burdened with having to travel hours or scramble to find a doctor. Women living in rural communities deserve quality, affordable health care, and Congress should act quickly to support all expecting mothers, regardless of where they live.”
The Rural MOMS Act would:
- Improve rural maternal and obstetric care data by directing the CDC to coordinate efforts with respect to maternal mortality and morbidity, to report on women’s health conditions according to sociocultural and geographic contexts, and to emphasize research on pregnancy-related deaths;
- Award new rural obstetric network grants to establish regional innovation networks to improve maternal mortality and morbidity as well as birth outcomes;
- Expand existing federal telehealth grant programs to include birth and postpartum services as part of telehealth networks and to allow federal funding to be used for ultrasound machines, fetal monitoring equipment, and other pregnancy-related technology;
- Establish a new rural maternal and obstetric care training demonstration to support training for family medicine physicians, obstetricians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, midwives, doulas, and other professionals to provide maternal care services in rural community-based settings; and
- Report on maternal care in rural areas to identify the locations of gaps in maternity care, disparities in maternal health in rural areas by race and ethnicity, recommendations to standardize data collection on maternal mortality and morbidity, and activities to improve maternal care in rural areas.
In addition to U.S. Senators Luján, Smith, and Murkowski, this legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Angus King (I-Maine), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).
The Rural MOMS Act is endorsed by the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP), Every Mother Counts, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the National Birth Equity Collaborative, March of Dimes, the Nurse-Family Partnership and the National Rural Health Association.