Congresswoman Finkenauer Introduces Legislation to Improve Maternal Health Care for Iowans

September 9, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) helped introduce bipartisan legislation to ensure Iowa’s new and expectant mothers can get access to high quality health care no matter where they live. The Rural Maternal and Obstetric Modernization of Services (MOMS) Act – introduced with Reps. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM), Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) – will help increase access to maternal care in Iowa communities that have seen their hospitals’ obstetric units close.

Since 2000, 34 Iowa hospitals have closed obstetrics units and just 51 of Iowa’s 99 counties have maternity care options.  A 2018 American Medical Association study found decreasing access to obstetrics in rural areas led to more births happening outside of a hospital and more premature births.

“I want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help Iowa moms get the health care they need,” Congresswoman Finkenauer said. “In Congress, I’ve fought for legislation to keep our hospitals open and physicians serving patients. This bill would help ensure moms aren’t driving hours just to get the care that they and their babies need.”

“UnityPoint Health is encouraged to see this legislation to increase investment in rural maternal health, modernize these services through expanding the federal investment in telehealth, and improve the data around geographic inequities in our health care system,” said Sabra Rosener, Vice President, Government & External Affairs, UnityPoint Health. “We look forward to continuing to work with Rep. Finkenauer to pass this important bill and strengthen the foundation of health care for mothers in the Midwest.”

The Iowa section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is proud to support the Rural Maternal and Obstetric Modernization of Services (Rural MOMS) Act,” said ACOG District VI Chair Thad Anderson, MD. “Access to quality care shouldn’t be dependent on zip code. Yet new and expecting moms living in rural areas face unique challenges to accessing care throughout their pregnancies. This bipartisan bill shines an important spotlight on obstetric care access issues facing our patients in Iowa, and would increase opportunities for ob-gyn residents to train in rural community-based settings. We applaud the leadership of Rep. Abby Finkenauer and her commitment to increase access to quality health care during pregnancy.”

“NRHA strongly applauds Congresswoman Finkenauer’s leadership on rural maternity care with the introduction of the Rural MOMS Act in the House,” Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association said, "Obstetric closures across Iowa and the nation are leaving families without the care they need. The Rural MOMS Act will take important steps towards understanding the root causes of maternal mortality and morbidity and undertake efforts to develop solutions to improve maternal care in rural America.”

The United States is the only industrialized county with increasing maternal mortality rates. According to the Centers for Disease Control, women giving birth today have less of a chance of surviving childbirth than a woman in 1987. The Rural MOMS Act would help reverse this trend by:

     · Expanding telehealth to improve access to maternal care

     · Supporting additional maternal and obstetric care training for health care providers

     · Providing grants to improve maternal care options

     · Improving information gathering to identify gaps in rural maternal care

Congresswoman Finkenauer is committed to improving access to quality and affordable healthcare in Iowa. She is championing legislation to raise Medicare reimbursement rates in Iowa as well as leading a bill to attract more healthcare providers to rural areas. Finkenauer also led members of the Iowa delegation in support of a federal investigation into Iowa’s managed care organizations that have failed Iowans.