WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following last week’s Ways and Means Committee hearing on the maternal mortality crisis in the United States, the top Republican on the Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) sent letters to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro requesting the agencies provide information to better understand the issue and the federal government’s efforts to address it.
“The U.S. currently has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world, with significant racial disparities for African American and Hispanic women,” wrote Brady and Neal. “A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that more than 60 percent of the maternal deaths in the U.S. could be prevented, but we do not have a national strategy in place to take action.”
The members asked HHS to compile a comprehensive review of its programs and models that relate to combatting maternal mortality, including the work done in the Office of Women’s Health, and evaluation results related to the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program and Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG).
Citing the lack of consistent, nationwide data on maternal mortality, Brady and Neal called for GAO to complete a report detailing: 1) the extent of the gaps in currently reported data around maternal mortality; 2) the key inconsistencies in the data reporting coming from states including length of time post-partum used to define maternal deaths; 3) the degree to which these inconsistencies apply to measures of severe maternal morbidity; and 4) the level of federal support required to resolve those concerns.
The members also requested GAO answer a series of questions related to relevant federal data collection, programs, and studies, as well as possible trends and patterns in U.S. maternal mortality.
Full text of the letter to Secretary Azar is available HERE.
Full text of the letter to Comptroller General Dodaro is available HERE.