Bill Aims To Send Physicians to Areas That Need Maternity Care
By Sean Price

A bill designed to improve maternity care nationwide — authored by U.S. Rep. Michael C. Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville) — was approved by the U.S. Senate this week and is on its way to the president's desk to be signed into law. 

Maternity_Care_BillHR 315, also known as the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act, helps the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) more efficiently place obstetrician-gynecologists and other maternal care practitioners in areas where maternity care is needed most.

Specifically, the bill changes the Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) program, which designates areas with health care provider shortages. 

Currently, areas that have a primary care HPSA designation have a minimum ratio of about 3,500 people per primary care physician. Under this bill, those areas will now be evaluated to specifically assess the availability of obstetrical services.

Shortage areas will be identified as “maternity care health professional target areas” and prioritized for the placement of OB-Gyns and other maternal care practitioners through the National Health Service Corps. Health care professionals who work in the corps may be eligible for student loan repayment.

The bill, which was unanimously approved in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, is intended to address the growing shortage of OB-Gyns in the U.S. and to improve access to maternal care in rural and underserved areas. More than half of Texas counties have no obstetrician or gynecologist, according to the Texas Organization of Rural & Community Hospitals.

"We have come one step closer to delivering the quality, consistent maternity care that helps to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy, regardless of where a woman lives," said Rep. Burgess, who is an OB-Gyn. 

Correction: This story was edited to say health care professionals who work in the NHSC may be eligible for student loan repayment.

Last Updated On

December 19, 2018

Sean Price

Reporter

(512) 370-1392

Sean Price is a reporter for Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. He grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He's worked as an award-winning writer and editor for a variety of national magazine, book, and website publishers in New York and Washington. He's also helped produce Texas-based marketing campaigns designed to promote public health. Sean lives in Austin and enjoys hiking, photography, and spending time with his wife and two sons.

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