Congress Members Engel and Stivers Introduce Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act

Mar 3, 2016

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Eliot L. Engel (NY-16) and Congressman Steve Stivers (OH-15) introduced the Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act, a bill aimed at measuring and evaluating Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program’s (CHIP) performances in caring for our mothers and babies. The bill would also facilitate the development of the best practices and benchmarks needed to make such assessments.

Despite the critical importance of maternal and infant care, substantial gaps exist in quality measures regarding care for childbearing women and newborns.

Although the National Quality Forum (NQF) has endorsed 19 perinatal care measures, the CHIP Health Quality Measures and Medicaid Quality Measurement Program include only eight of these NQF-endorsed measures. The only program in Medicaid and CHIP targeted towards performance measurement reporting does not include a maternal and infant quality core set. In addition, the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) facility, provider, and health plan surveys do not address vital dimensions of maternity care quality, such as unique pain management.

In consultation with relevant stakeholders, the Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act will:
• Identify and publish a core set of maternal and infant health quality measures for women and children in Medicaid and CHIP;
• Support the development of new measures, as needed;
• Support new and existing maternity and infant care quality collaboratives, facilitating access to data capabilities and performance data collection; and
• Bring together diverse stakeholders to analyze, streamline, and make recommendations on a core set of quality measures for use across the health care system.

“Each one of us has had a personal stake in the health of mothers and newborns,” said Congressman Engel. “When we are born, we depend on high-quality care for a strong start in life. We also trust in such care to protect our mothers, daughters, and other women we love – 80% of whom will have children during their lifetimes.”

“Given the unique importance of maternal and infant care, it makes sense that there should be precise, thoroughly-vetted benchmarks against which to measure their quality,” Engel said. “Our bill, the Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act, would create such benchmarks within CHIP and Medicaid, which covers nearly half of all U.S. births.”

“One of the biggest impacts we can make on building a quality and affordable health care system, is to ensure mothers have safe deliveries and that babies get a healthy start in life,” Representative Stivers said. “I am pleased to work with Representative Engel, and to team up once again with the March of Dimes, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the National Partnership for Women and Families to ensure health care providers have high standards and clear metrics when it comes to infant and maternal care.”

“That which is measured is paid attention to,” stated March of Dimes President Dr. Jennifer L. Howse. “The Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act will address the significant gaps in quality measures and systems to track and improve perinatal health care. The March of Dimes commends Representatives Engel and Stivers for their leadership in bringing this focus to maternal and child health care quality.”

“The Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act can help more women and babies in this country receive safe, effective, evidence-based health care – and ultimately, help more mothers and babies thrive,” said National Partnership for Women & Families President Debra L. Ness. “This bipartisan and badly needed legislation would support positive improvements in the delivery of maternity care while maximizing the value of our health care dollars. We are enormously grateful to Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) for reintroducing it in the House of Representatives today and continuing to push for its passage.”

“The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is very excited and pleased to support the Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act. The goal of every obstetrician-gynecologist is a healthy mother and a healthy baby, and as the leading group of health care providers dedicated to caring for women, ACOG is committed to improving and applying the current best practices in obstetrical care,” stated ACOG President Mark S. DeFrancesco, MD, MBA. “Quality collaboratives are an important way to help make sure that evidence-based practice recommendations – including those related to early elective deliveries and avoiding the primary cesarean – are implemented in a way that truly improves the care that women receive. ACOG thanks Representative Eliot Engel and Representative Steve Stivers for their leadership on the issue of improving maternity care and looks forward to working with both chambers of Congress to advance this bill into law.”

The Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act was introduced on March 3, 2016, with 13 original cosponsors: Representatives Stivers, Graham, King (NY-02), Kennedy, Deutch, Dold, Murphy (FL-18), Kinzinger, Maloney (NY-18), Ros-Lehtinen, Jenkins (WV-03), Young (AK-At Large) and MacArthur.

Please note this press release was originally published on March 3, 2016 by Congressman Engel’s House of Representative’s office and posted to this website no sooner than 72 hours after initial publication.