U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján Introduces Bill To Improve Access to Quality, Affordable Maternity Care

From the Office of U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Lujan:

  • Legislation is part of Sen. Luján’s effort to combat infant and maternal mortality across United States

Washington, D.C. – On the heels of his introduction of the Midwives for MOMS Act, U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) introduced legislation to increase access to quality, affordable maternity care through the creation of a federally funded Birth and Women’s Health Center demonstration program.

The BABIES Act requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to establish a Medicaid demonstration program to improve freestanding birth center services for women with low-risk pregnancies.

Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House by Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and U.S. Representatives Lucille Roybal Allard (D-Calif.), Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa), and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.).

New Mexico ranks 41st in low birthweight and 50th in births to women receiving late or no prenatal care. Babies born to mothers who receive insufficient prenatal care are at a higher risk for preterm birth, low birthweight, infections, and chronic health problems later in life.

A CMS study found that birth centers, which rely on the midwifery model, resulted in lower rates of preterm birth and low birthweight, fewer caesareans, and cost savings of $2,000 per mother-infant pair. The study also demonstrated that birth center care has a larger potential impact on the reduction of preterm birth risk than any other recent medical or public health intervention.

“Birth centers have positive outcomes for mothers and babies, and in communities with limited access to maternal care, can provide a strong alternative to hospital deliveries for women with low-risk pregnancies. The BABIES Act would create a model for states to provide patients with additional community-based birthing settings while improving maternal and infant health,” Luján said “As America faces a crisis of maternal and infant mortality, I’ll continue to look for opportunities for improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s families.”

The BABIES Act is endorsed by the American College of Nurse Midwives, National Association of Certified Professional Midwives, American Association of Birth Centers, American Academy of Nursing, American Medical Student Association, Ancient Song Doula Services, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, Ariadne Labs, Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers, DONA International, Every Mother Counts, Futures Without Violence, Improving Birth, Jewish Healthcare Foundation, Lamaze International, March for Moms, Midwives Alliance of North America, Mom Congress, Moms Rising, National, Health Law Program, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Rural Health Association, Our Bodies Ourselves, Sisters in Birth, Women and Girls Foundation, Women’s Law Project and VBAC Facts.

A summary of the legislation is available HERE. Full text of the legislation can be found HERE.

Last week, Senator Luján cosponsored the bipartisan Rural MOMS Act, which he previously led in the House of Representatives, to help ensure that new and expecting moms living in rural communities get the care they need.

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