Britt: High maternal mortality rate 'American issue', not Democrat or Republican

Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) encouraged elected officials to work across the aisle to address the United States' high maternal mortality rate during a panel discussion Thursday on maternal mental health.

“I think it's so important that we continue to talk about this in a bipartisan way because this is not a Democratic or Republican issue, this is an American issue,” Britt said during The Hill's Moms Matter: Closing the Maternal Mental Health Gap. sponsored by Sage Therapeutics.

The US has one of the highest maternal mortality rates among wealthy countries, with a significant portion of these deaths resulting from mental health problems.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the maternal mortality rate in 2019 was 20.1 deaths per 100,000 live births, and that rate has steadily increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, the country's maternal mortality rate reached 23.8 deaths per 100,000, eventually exploding to a whopping 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2021.

Suicides and overdoses accounted for nearly a quarter of these deaths.

According to figures, maternal mortality will decrease in 2022 recently released data from the CDC, but doctors don't think the country is out of the woods yet because mothers are still dying at a higher rate than in other wealthy countries.

“The United States has unacceptable maternal mortality and morbidity rates,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), who joined Britt in speaking with The Hill editor Kathleen Koch at the event. “We have to change that.”

Britt used the Rural Midwifery Readiness Acta bill introduced in April by Hassan and co-sponsored by Britt as an example of how Republicans and Democrats can come together to improve maternal health.

The bill is intended to help rural hospitals and physicians better prepare for obstetric emergencies and, if passed, do so by training non-specialists to handle emergency delivery and by creating federal grants to help rural healthcare facilities purchase equipment to address obstetric emergencies. .

Grants could also give rural health care facilities the equipment they need to better train staff to handle obstetric emergencies.

The bill would also launch a pilot program for teleconsultation services that would allow rural facilities without obstetric teams anywhere in the country to reach out via telehealth for medical consultations during emergencies.

“Ensuring that we equip these communities and these women with these resources… to be prepared during an emergency is critical,” Britt said.

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