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Brady calls on Neal, Democrats to join Republican-led investigation from last Congress into Rising Death Rates Among Mothers

May 16, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement at a Full Committee Hearing on Overcoming Racial Disparities and Social Determinants in the Maternal Mortality Crisis.

Before the start of the hearing, Rep. Brady sent the following letter to Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA).

CLICK HERE to read the letter.

CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Thank you, Chairman, for calling this hearing today.

“Welcoming a new child into this world should be one of the most rewarding times in a woman’s life.  It is nearly impossible to put into words the joy that comes from seeing a new baby for the first time.

“But sadly, the U.S. is one of three countries globally where the maternal mortality rate is on the rise.

“As it stands today, it is more dangerous to give birth in America than it was two decades ago. 

“According to the Centers for Disease Control, the rate of maternal mortality has increased nearly 26 percent from 2000 to 2014.

“This means that for all women today, they are more at risk of dying when giving birth than their mothers were.

“And the statistics are even more alarming for women of color.  African American women are three to four times more likely to experience pregnancy-related deaths than Caucasian women.

“It is not entirely clear why maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity is increasing in the U.S.

“But we know one thing for certain: this is unacceptable. 

“Our country should be the health care leader of the world, and every single mother deserves to know that they will be in safe hands while giving birth.

“Which is why last year, Republicans on this Committee launched an investigation into this dilemma. 

“The goal of our investigation was to find out why these deaths are happening, where Congress can take action, and how as a nation we can reverse this trend.

“Legislatively, we, for the first in program history, reauthorized the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program for five years and asked states to review how those resources were being deployed to best target at-risk mother and babies.

“And, as of October 1st, 2019, states will be able to draw down matching funds for home visiting, limited only by their contributions, expanding the reach of this successful intervention.

“I applaud the Chairman for continuing our efforts on this tragic national issue. 

“And while today’s hearing won’t solve the problem entirely, I am looking forward to working together toward bipartisan solutions to support America’s mothers.

“Recent investigations from advocacy groups have highlighted this growing issue. 

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that over 50,000 mothers experience serious injury during the child birthing experience.

“Further, 700 women die of pregnancy-related complications in the U.S. and 60 percent of these pregnancy-related deaths are preventable regardless of race, ethnicity, and when they occur. 

“This statistic should force all of us to pause – because the truth is we know these findings most likely only scratch the surface.

“As we work toward solutions, we must first acknowledge that a shortage of data is a problem. 

“The U.S. is deficient of consistent data reporting across States, and we lack of an official U.S. maternal mortality rate.

“Without such information, it is more difficult to identify the causes of this national problem.  More data is needed in order to develop the appropriate response for this growing crisis.

“We must also recognize areas that need improvement in our current health care system – particularly access to affordable care, and strained doctor-patient relationships.

“Additionally, we also need to examine geographical disparities regarding maternal health.

“Pregnant women in rural America face significant challenges: including high poverty rates and more chronic conditions, all with less access to health care providers.

“In fact, more than half of rural counties currently have no hospital that provides maternity care, forcing many women in rural America to drive hours to get to the closest hospital. 

“This makes it all the more challenging for a woman who goes into labor to get to the hospital in time. 

“And on top of this, research has found that some black and Hispanic women report perceiving discriminatory practices in the course of their prenatal care.  

“These are big issues that Congress needs to address.

“With an all-hands-on-deck effort, we can work to ensure best practices to address rising maternal mortality are shared and easily accessible.

“Republicans were glad to initiate the effort to investigate why our country’s maternal mortality rate is so high, and what lawmakers can do to remedy this.

“Let’s work together in continuing the investigation.  Because as our witnesses will attest, there is more work to be done.

“I’m hopeful that working together in a bipartisan manner we can start paving a path forward this year so that every mother can be secure in knowing she will be safe while giving birth.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”