Two senators have reintroduced a bipartisan bill to improve maternity care through telemedicine and other digital tools in an effort to lower the high mother death rate in the US. The law would set aside money to assist the expansion of telehealth use in an effort to reduce maternal mortality and negative outcomes for mothers. Additionally, it would call for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to take into account telehealth integration models that enhance maternal care and to fund technology-based learning models for educating maternal care providers in underserved communities about social determinants of health, mental health, and safety.
Two US senators have reintroduced a bipartisan bill to improve maternal care through telehealth and other digital tools. The Tech to Save Moms Act, which was first introduced in 2021, aims to leverage telehealth and digital health technology to promote maternal care outcomes.
The bill was reintroduced in response to the high maternal mortality rate in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women in the US was 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2021. This rate was 2.6 times greater than that of non-Hispanic White women.
The Tech to Save Moms Act would dedicate funds to support the growth of telehealth use to mitigate maternal mortality and poor maternal outcomes. The bill would also require the Center Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to consider models that improve telehealth integration into maternal care and provide funding for technology-based learning models to train maternal care providers in underserved communities on topics related to safety, mental health, and social determinants of health.
The bill has been endorsed by over 180 organizations, including the American Academy of Nursing, the American Nurses Association, and the American Telemedicine Association (ATA).
“As part of our longstanding commitment to expanding access to care for underserved communities, the ATA and ATA Action proudly stand behind the Tech to Save Moms Act, introduced by telehealth champions, Senators Menendez and Sullivan, to improve the maternal health outcomes for rural and underserved populations,” said Kyle Zebley, senior vice president, public policy, American Telemedicine Association, and executive director, ATA Action.
“This bipartisan legislation leverages virtual care to assist in bridging gaps in maternal healthcare, including testing telehealth models in maternity care services, providing grants to expand technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity models to help pregnant and postpartum women, and authorizing grants to increase access to digital tools,” continued Zebley.
The Tech to Save Moms Act is one of several pieces of legislation that have been introduced in recent years to support the use of telehealth in maternal care. In February, a group of six US House representatives introduced the Telehealth Benefit Expansion for Workers Act, which aims to provide American workers with employer-sponsored telehealth benefits.
Through this bipartisan legislation, employers could offer workers standalone telehealth benefits that would operate similarly to dental and vision benefits, remaining separate from traditional healthcare plans. These benefits would apply to all workers, including those who work seasonally or on a part-time schedule.
The use of telehealth in maternal care is still in its early stages, but it has the potential to improve access to care and reduce disparities in maternal health outcomes. The Tech to Save Moms Act and other pieces of legislation that support the use of telehealth in maternal care are a step in the right direction.