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Monday, April 17, 2017

Sen. Baldwin inroduces legislation on rural maternity care and manufacturing

WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recently introduced the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act to reduce maternity care shortages by identifying areas lacking maternal health professionals and help incentivize providers to practice in these underserved, often rural areas.

Babies born to mothers who received no prenatal care are three times more likely to be low birth weight, and are five times more likely to die than babies whose mothers received care. According to recent estimates from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), approximately 26 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties do not have any ob-gyns, and there are only 556 ob-gyn physicians serving a population of 2,340,007 women in Wisconsin.

“Too many communities around Wisconsin are still facing a shortage of qualified, maternity care professionals and services,” said Senator Baldwin. “This legislation will target resources so providers can deliver the care that expecting mothers in Wisconsin so desperately need no matter where they live. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort to ensure that healthier pregnancies lead to healthier babies.”

The Improving Access to Maternity Care Act helps address these workforce challenges by directing the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to identify maternity care shortage areas that may be used by the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). The NHSC is critical to filling workforce shortages in underserved areas, with over 9,200 Corps clinicians delivering services to 9.7 million people across the US. Currently ob-gyns are recognized under the primary care shortage designation, which fails to adequately address shortages in maternity care. By identifying maternity care needs within existing shortage areas, the United States can begin to fill this gap. This legislation is critical to facilitating a better understanding of where the serious maternity care shortages are located and to subsequently direct health care providers to those communities. The Improving Access to Maternity Care Act is endorsed by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM).

Learn more about the bipartisan Improving Access to Maternity Care Act here.

Sen. Baldwin (D-WI) also continued her efforts to promote strong Buy America standards by cosponsoring the Make It In America Act. This legislation, authored by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), closes loopholes in the current Buy American law so the federal government is spending American tax dollars to buy products made in AmericaThis Act also holds federal agencies accountable for how they spend taxpayer dollars. 

The Buy American Act, which was passed in 1933, gives priority to American companies when the federal government purchases goods. However, the current law has numerous exemptions.

“Our nation’s workers cannot afford to have the government spending taxpayer dollars on foreign products,” said Senator Baldwin. “Wisconsin manufacturers and workers deserve a solid commitment from Washington on a strong Buy America standard. The Make It In America Act will the federal government make – and keep – that commitment.”

Recently, the federal government has awarded over $70 billion in contracts to foreign companies that do not manufacture products here in the United States.  In fact, a recent Department of Defense Inspector General report found that the Air Force inconsistently enforced Buy American requirements and purchased foreign-made goods. In certain instances, the Buy American Act can be waived, such as if the product is not available domestically in sufficient quantity or quality, if doing so is in the public interest, or if the product will be used overseas. The Make It In America Act would make it harder to use these waivers and require agencies to submit an annual report to Congress on the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on foreign made goods.

An online version of this release is available here


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