CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, November 14, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 1209, the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act. H.R. 1209 was introduced on March 3, 2015, by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and was referred to Committee on Energy and Commerce, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote on September 21, 2016.
H.R. 1209 requires the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to collect data to better place maternity health care professionals in existing primary care health professional shortage areas. Currently, maternity health care professionals can participate in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) but they are not always placed where they are most needed. The bill will help better place maternity health care professionals in areas with the greatest need for their services. The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) places health care professionals who participate in their Loan Repayment Program, which requires a two-year commitment, in areas where HRSA finds health professional shortages. H.R. 1209 is designed to more effectively allocate maternity health care providers who already participate in the NHSC Loan Repayment Program, in areas with higher need of maternity health care. The bill does not change or expand participation in the NHSC.
The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) objective is to increase the availability of primary care services to populations in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). The program aims to increase health care professional availability by making loan repayment and scholarship awards to individuals in exchange for their agreement to work at approved sites. NHSC clinicians are mainly physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and behavioral/mental health professionals who must serve for a minimum of two years at an approved facility.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “Every year, 1 million babies are born to mothers who did not receive adequate prenatal care.” Babies born to mothers who received no prenatal care are 3 times more likely to be low birth weight and 5 times more likely to die than babies whose mothers received prenatal care. H.R. 1209 will require HRSA to identify areas in high need of maternity health care in order to better place health care professionals who already participate in the NHSC Loan Program in these areas.
According to the bill’s sponsor, “consistent, high-quality maternity care is of the utmost importance for both a mother and baby during pregnancy. H.R. 1209 is an important step in addressing critical shortages of maternity care providers across the country. I am appreciative that the full committee recognizes the value of helping place more maternity care providers where they are needed most throughout the country and for the dedication of the professional organizations in advancing this important piece of legislation.” 
 See American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists report, Support the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act
 See Michael Burgess Press Release, “Burgess Statement on Passage of Maternity Care Access Bill by Energy & Commerce Committee,” September 21, 2016.
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate is not currently available.
For questions or further information please contact John Huston with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-5539.