Gianforte Introduces Bill to Address Maternal Health Crisis Using Technology
Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) recently introduced the bipartisan Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act. The bill will use data mapping to identify areas of the country where high rates of poor maternal health overlap with a lack of broadband access.
Gianforte introduced the Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act, H.R. 5640, with U.S. Reps. G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.).
The United States is one of the only countries in the developed world with a rising maternal mortality rate. Around 700 women die each year in pregnancy related deaths, though 3 in 5 of those deaths are preventable. The problem is especially prevalent in rural communities and amongst women of color who continue to experience disproportionately high rates of maternal and infant mortality.
“Montana is home to eight federally recognized American Indian tribal governments. Unfortunately, Indian country contains some of the least connected communities in terms of health care and broadband access,” Gianforte said. “American Indian women are 2 to 3 times more likely to die from pregnancy related causes than white women, and more than half of rural tribes lack adequate internet access. This bipartisan legislation will highlight areas that have both internet service gaps and high rates of poor maternal health outcomes, to hopefully provide targeted investments that could save lives.”
“I was proud to introduce the Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act to identify those areas of the country that need maternal health services and broadband services most urgently,” Butterfield said. “Doing so will aid us in allocating broadband resources in a way that most effectively benefits our nation’s mothers. Across the country, advances in telehealth are showing promising results in patient outcomes and the expansion of these efforts will be an important first step in addressing the maternal health crisis. We can and must do better.”
“Indiana rates third highest in the nation for maternal mortality with 33 counties that either have no hospital or the hospital provides no obstetrician-gynecologist service,” Brooks said. “Women in rural areas suffer the most, which is why it is critical we improve broadband connectivity in rural regions where new and expectant mothers lack access to care. This legislation demonstrates Congress’ commitment to further address maternal mortality and ensure expectant mothers across the country will have better access to care thanks to the benefits telehealth services can provide them.”
“Over the last two decades, the number of American moms dying from pregnancy and childbirth has more than doubled while rates in other nations, including developing nations, have declined significantly. Even more tragically, it’s estimated that more than half of these deaths are entirely preventable. It is clear there is a real problem and it’s time to enact solutions,” said Kelly, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls. “This legislation will give Congress a clearer picture of the crisis and means to ensure healthy moms, babies and families. By understanding the linkage between limited access to information and higher rates of maternal deaths, we can develop and implement creative and workable solutions that save lives.”
“It is unacceptable that we have allowed maternal mortality to become a national crisis,” Blunt Rochester said. “While there is no one solution to this crisis, ensuring access to high-quality medical services improves outcomes and saves lives. For many in rural communities, telehealth technologies enable pregnant women to access medical services. But, to effectively deploy 21st Century resources, the nation must first identify which communities lack adequate internet access and have high mortality rates. I am proud to introduce the Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act with Reps. Butterfield, Gianforte, and Kelly so the FCC can tackle this challenging issue.”