Baldwin bill to improve maternity care clears Senate Health Committee

WASHINGTON (GRAY) - A bill addressing a lack of health care for pregnant women, especially in rural areas, is making its way through Congress.

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The "Improving Access to Maternity Care Act" was introduced by Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski last year.

It cleared the Senate Health Committee this week.

The bill aims to reduce long travel times and limitations for women getting prenatal care and reduce medical complications during pregnancy.

Research shows babies born to mothers who received no prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than babies whose mothers received care.

Speaking to our Gray DC Bureau Friday, Sen. Baldwin said the proposal is about finding the gaps in maternity care, "where pregnant women can't access prenatal care or maternity care, and then charges the National Services Corps with placing specialists in maternity care in those under-served areas," she explained.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about 26 of Wisconsin's 72 counties have no OB/GYNs, and there are only about 550 OB/GYNs to serve Wisconsin's population of two-and-a-half million women.