American Hospital Association
Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Energy and Commerce
U.S. House of Representatives
“Improving Maternal Health: Legislation to Advance Prevention Efforts and
Access to Care”
September 10, 2019
On behalf of our nearly 5,000 member hospitals, health systems and other health care organizations, our clinician partners – including more than 270,000 affiliated physicians, 2 million nurses and other caregivers – and the 43,000 health care leaders who belong to our professional membership groups, the American Hospital Association (AHA) commends the Committee on Energy and Commerce for its efforts to examine legislation to improve maternal health.
Maternal health is a top priority for the AHA and our member hospitals and health systems, and our initial efforts are aimed at eliminating maternal mortality and severe morbidity. The causes of maternal mortality and morbidity are complex, including a lack of consistent access to comprehensive care and persistent racial disparities in health and health care. As hospitals work to improve health outcomes, we are redoubling our efforts to improve maternal health across the continuum of care and reaching out to community partners to aid in that important effort.
The May 2019 Vital Signs report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that about 700 women die each year from complications related to pregnancy, and more than half of those deaths are preventable. An estimated 31% of pregnancy-related deaths occur during pregnancy, 36% during delivery or the week after, and 33% one week to one year after delivery. The CDC last week released its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that showed that between 2007-2016, the pregnancy-related mortality ratio increased from 15 to 17 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 births and that black, American Indian and Alaska Native women were two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, and this disparity increases with age. The report also noted that racial and ethnic disparities in pregnancy-related deaths have persisted over time.