Last week, both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed H.B. 1318, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2018. The bill now awaits the president’s signature. This bill authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to make grants to states intended to help improve maternal healthcare and reduce maternal deaths. Under the bill, states could be awarded grants to:
(1) Review pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated deaths (maternal deaths);
(2) Establish and sustain a maternal mortality review committee to review relevant information;
(3) Ensure that the state department of health develops a plan for ongoing healthcare provider education in order to improve the quality of maternal care, disseminate findings, and implement recommendations;
(4) Disseminate a case abstraction form to aid information collection for HHS review and preserve its uniformity; and
(5) Provide for the public disclosure of information included in state reports.
If the bill becomes law, states will be tasked with developing procedures for mandatory reporting to their departments of health by health facilities and professionals concerning maternal deaths and for voluntary reporting of such deaths by family members. In addition, the bill requires states to investigate and prepare a case summary for each case, to be reviewed by the committee and included in applicable reports. The bill amends the Public Health Service Act to direct HHS to take specified steps to eliminate disparities in maternal health outcomes.
The bill defines “pregnancy-associated death” as the death of a woman while pregnant or during the one-year period following the date of the end of pregnancy, irrespective of the cause of death. It defines “pregnancy-related death” as the death of a woman while pregnant or during the one-year period following the date of the end of pregnancy, irrespective of the pregnancy’s duration, from any cause related to, or aggravated by, the pregnancy or its management, excluding any accidental or incidental cause.