Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Letter to Elected Officials in Support of MOMS

Something monumental and potentially life-saving for America's mothers and babies happened last week on the House floor. Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard introduced the Maximizing Optimal Maternity Services (MOMS) for the 21st Century Act (HR 5807), which places a national focus on evidence-based maternity care practices to help achieve the best possible maternity outcomes for mothers and babies. Your Florida colleagues in the House, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Congresswoman Kathy Castor, have co-signed this legislation. I am writing to implore you, as a mother, as a taxpayer, as a maternal rights advocate and as your constituent, to sponsor this act.

I have written you before to tell you that the United States currently ranks 41st in maternal mortality, yet we spend significantly more on childbirth than any other industrialized country. Moreover, our nation's 32% c-section rate, high premature birth and labor induction rates, and their subsequent repeat admission rates are all playing a major role in our nation’s escalating health care costs. Hospitalization related to pregnancy and childbirth costs approximately $86 billion each year, the highest hospitalization costs in any area of health care.

The MOMS for the 21st Century Act responds to this crisis by creating a new Health & Human Services focus on the promotion of optimal maternity care, an additional focus area for the Office on Women's Health, and an Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Promotion of Optimal Maternity Outcomes, a widespread consumer education campaign, and a bibliographic database of systematic reviews for care of childbearing women and newborns. Most importantly, it calls for accountability in accurate research and data collection, and the enhancement of an interdisciplinary maternity workforce, including Obstetricians, Certified Nurse-Midwives, and Certified Professional Midwives.

“The MOMS for the 21st Century Act makes overdue reforms to our nation’s maternity care system to better ensure that providers and mothers have the best information available when making serious maternity care decisions,” Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard said last week. “The fact is we have a maternity care system in the United States that has not traditionally adhered to evidenced-based practices. For example, there is widespread over use in our country of maternity practices, such as elective Cesarean sections and scheduled inductions. These procedures are beneficial and needed only in limited situations. When used routinely and indiscriminately and without medical necessity, these and other practices expose women and infants to unnecessary risks at high cost. On the other hand, credible science-based research tells us non-invasive maternity practices...produce considerable improvement in maternity outcomes, such as healthier moms and babies. Yet these cost-effective evidence-based practices, which have no detrimental side effects, are significantly underused in our country.”

As a consumer, I will do everything possible to offer you the utmost support from my community in sponsoring the Maximizing Optimal Maternity Services (MOMS) for the 21st Century Act (HR 5807). I look forward to hearing your response on this issue and will follow up with your legislative aides by telephone. Thank you for your service and your attention.

Laura Gilkey, mother of two
Sarasota, Florida

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