Regionalization of Newborn Care Bill Stalls in House
Regionalization of Perinatal Care Bill Stalls in Missouri HouseSt. Louis , Missouri, May 05, 2014
March of Dimes Urges Legislative Review
The March of Dimes Missouri Chapter is deeply disappointed in the recent vote in the Missouri House of Representatives to reject regionalization of perinatal care (HB 1898). The vote came one day after the House successfully amended the same proposal onto a Senate bill (SB716). This important legislation, strongly supported by the March of Dimes, would establish an advisory council of Missouri experts to create standards for our hospitals to follow when caring for newborns. The council would also develop guidelines to address patient transportation, unexpected complications during delivery, high-risk pregnancies and reporting procedures.
The March of Dimes urges the House of Representatives to reconsider this vote and to pass this legislation for the sake of Missouri infants’ health and wellbeing.
Regionalized newborn care is nothing new. The concept was introduced in 1976 in a March of Dimes report, Toward Improving the Outcome of Pregnancy. Today, more than half of the United States has a regionalized system of perinatal care in place. These states have shown a substantial decline in infant mortality.
In 2011, 11.7% of all babies born in Missouri were born preterm, earning our state a grade of C on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card. Sadly, the rate is much higher for some groups. For example, 17.4%, or almost 1 in 6, African-American infants is born preterm in Missouri. These early births represent a profound burden upon our state’s families, our health care system, and our economy. The average cost of caring for a preterm infant is $55,393, while the average cost of a full-term birth is $5,085.
According to Trina Ragain, State Director of Program Services, Advocacy and Government Affairs, “HB 1898 seeks to improve outcomes for our state’s newborns by establishing an advisory council of local experts to examine the evidence regarding care for newborns and to recommend science-based guidelines for our hospitals. A substantial body of evidence exists showing that infants are less likely to die or suffer serious complications when they are born at facilities that are properly equipped to care for their needs. The March of Dimes believes that every baby should benefit from the highest possible quality care and that standards for this care should be based on strong scientific evidence and standards.”