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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 14, 2020 09:28 AM
From: Senator Judith L. Schwank
To: All Senate members
Subject: Maternal Mortality Legislation Package
In the near future, I will be reintroducing a package of bills that would address the Maternal Mortality rates for women in Pennsylvania.   This package is a companion to legislation introduced Representative Morgan Cephas.

Maternal mortality is defined by the death of a woman during pregnancy, at delivery or up to one year postpartum.  About 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications.  This number is significantly higher than other developed countries and research suggests that half of these deaths are preventable.  A nation’s rate of maternal mortality is often used to measure overall effectiveness of the health care delivery system through assessment of general medical care.  This package of legislation will address several issues directly related to preventing pregnancy-related deaths and ensuring the best possible birth outcomes for Pennsylvania women.
Please join me in supporting these important pieces of legislation.

Document #1

Introduced as SB358

Description: Maternal Morbidity

This legislation would add “severe maternal morbidity” to the list of reportable events within the Pennsylvania Department of Health.  Severe maternal morbidity is a category of health conditions that complicate pregnancy, including unexpected outcomes of labor delivery that result in significant short- or long-term consequences to a woman’s health, which sometimes results in death, sometimes an instance of maternal mortality. In 2014, maternal morbidity affected 50,000 women in the United States and has been steadily increasing since that time.  This bill would categorize maternal deaths and severe maternal morbidity complications as reportable events. The Maternal Mortality Review Committee would submit a report including each reportable event to the department.

Document #2

Introduced as SB359

Description: Medicaid Expansion for Postpartum Women

The second bill in this package would expand Medicaid for Postpartum Women. In Pennsylvania, pregnancy-related Medicaid eligibility ends 60 days postpartum. As such, many women are left without coverage and are at a greater risk of losing access to critical health services during a time of unmet maternal health needs. By extending Medicaid coverage, health issues that are of high risk to mothers can be addressed, and the number of preventable maternal deaths can be reduced. States that have already extended Medicaid coverage for postpartum women under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have experienced a 50 percent greater reduction in infant mortality than states that have not.  This legislation would require the Secretary of the Department of Human Services to apply for a waiver that would extend Medicaid coverage for pregnancy-related and postpartum medical assistance for up to an additional ten months. This will ensure mothers continue to have access to the necessary services and support for both themselves and their children.

Document #3

Introduced as SB360

Description: Medicaid Coverage for Doulas
The last piece of legislation would extend Medicaid coverage to Doulas.  Doulas are not only shown to improve maternal and infant health, but many are specifically trained in cultural competence to address the intersectional experience that is pregnancy and motherhood. Research shows that access to doula services (before, during and after pregnancy) can bridge the unacceptable inequity, providing tailored care for women who so desperately need a support system.  This legislation would extend Medicaid coverage to doula services. It would also create a Doula Advisory Board. The board would be responsible for determining the approved accreditation organizations for doulas, the competencies that should be required to ensure doulas are properly equipped to serve the mothers of Pennsylvania, and setting standards based on best practices for doula professionals.