Maternity Care Bills Advance

New Jersey State House Dome
Health Committee Approves Bills Sponsored by Pou, Cruz-Perez, Greenstein, Ruiz & Rice

Trenton – Today the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee approved several bills concerning the quality of maternal health care in the state.

The bills, sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou, Senator Nilsa Cruz Perez, Senator Linda Greenstein, Senator M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Ronald Rice are part of a larger maternal care package currently moving through the legislature.

“The health of our mothers should be everyone’s concern,” said Senator Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic). “The statistics on maternity mortality in New Jersey are unacceptable by any measure. It’s time we take this seriously and I am proud to be a part of raising the standards for maternity care across the state.”

“Studies have found that, in 2018, the majority of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester). “By creating training protocols and guidelines for hospitals providing maternity care we can work to ameliorate tragic, preventable deaths. Coupled with legislation to measure outcomes, we can comprehensively address maternity care in the state.”

“The first year of a child’s life is critical, not only for the newborn baby, but also for the mother,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “There are many physical and emotional complications that can occur and it is important that women be able to address them. Extending new mothers’ Medicaid coverage to one year will ensure they are able to seek the care they need.”

“Race, ethnicity and socioeconomic standings should never influence the quality of maternal care a woman receives,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Far too often we see the concerns of women of color fall on deaf ears, at times leading to catastrophic birth and post-partum complications. Surveying women on the care they received will allow us to promptly address inadequacies around the state.”

“It is important that the federal government collects information on maternal mortality,” said Senator Rice (D-Essex). “While the state can do its due diligence, this is a national issue. Collecting and making data available from around the country will allow states to take greater national trends into consideration when suggesting means of improvement.”

 S. 3363 – Sponsored by Senator Pou, the bill would require the Department of Health (DOH) to develop policies and procedures for every hospital and birthing center in the state, on the collection and dissemination of data relating to maternity care. The data would be reviewed by the DOH and used to identify areas of improvement and means of achieving better maternal care. The statewide data would be available to birthing center staff working on improving quality of care, and publically in the form of regularly published reports.

 S. 3373 – Sponsored by Senator Cruz-Perez and Senator Greenstein, the bill would establish training protocols and treatment guidelines for general hospitals providing maternity care.

 S. 3374 – Sponsored by Senator Greenstein and Senator Singer, the bill would extend the Medicaid eligibility period of pregnant women to 365 days, beginning on the last day of the pregnancy. New Jersey provides full Medicaid coverage of pregnancy related services for women at or below 194 percent of the federal poverty level, currently that coverage extends to 60 days after the last day of the pregnancy.

 S. 3377 – Sponsored by Senator Ruiz, the “Listening to Mothers Survey Act” would require the DOH to establish a survey to evaluate and improve maternity care access and services. The survey would measure patients’ satisfaction with the quality of maternity care services they received and collect volunteered data on patient backgrounds.

 SR. 126 – Sponsored by Senator Rice and Senator Singer, the resolution would urge the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to adopt a uniform data system to collect information on maternal mortality. The data would allow states and the federal government to share responsibility in identifying opportunities for improving maternal health care services.

The bills were all released from committee by votes of 9-0.