Indianapolis, Ind. – U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly today highlighted a troubling new report from March of Dimes that shows significant geographical disparities in maternity care access in Indiana and across the country.
According to the report, 52 Hoosier counties have limited access to maternity care, which means they have few hospitals offering obstetric care and minimal obstetric providers. Further, 25 of these counties are maternity care deserts with no hospitals providing obstetric care, no obstetric providers, and a high proportion of women without health insurance. This can result in Hoosier women being forced to drive long distances for care or unable to access adequate maternity care at all. Indiana has the sixth-highest infant mortality rate and the third-highest maternal mortality rate in the United States.
Donnelly said, “Every mother in Indiana should be able to access quality maternity care, regardless of her zip code. This report clearly shows we still have work to do ensuring quality obstetric care for every Hoosier mother and her child. I’m proud to support bipartisan legislation that would help increase the number of providers in underserved areas so we can get better health outcomes for moms, babies, and families.”
The following Indiana counties have limited access to hospital-based obstetrical care and obstetrical care providers (52): Adams, Benton, Blackford, Brown, Carroll, Clay, Clinton, Daviess, Decatur, Delaware, Fayette, Fountain, Fulton, Gibson, Grant, Greene, Harrison, Jasper, Jay, Jennings, Johnson, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Lawrence, Martin, Miami, Morgan, Newton, Noble, Ohio, Orange, Owen, Parke, Perry, Pike, Posey, Pulaski, Putnam, Ripley, Rush, Spencer, Starke, Steuben, Sullivan, Switzerland, Vermillion, Wabash, Warren, Washington, Wayne, White, Whitley.
The following Indiana counties lack hospital-based obstetrical care and obstetrical care providers (25): Benton, Blackford, Brown, Carroll, Clay, Daviess, Fountain, Gibson, Jasper, Jennings, Martin, Morgan, Newton, Ohio, Pike, Posey, Rush, Spencer, Starke, Switzerland, Vermillion, Wabash, Warren, Washington, White.
In July, Donnelly cosponsored the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act, which would create a new maternity care health professional shortage area designation in order to ensure that OB/GYNs participating in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) are sent to the areas in highest need of maternity care. The NHSC incentivizes healthcare providers to work in underserved areas by awarding scholarships and loan repayment to primary care providers in eligible disciplines. As a result, maternity care resources could be targeted to the areas in greatest need of providers and services, which would help contribute to healthier pregnancies and babies. A version of the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act passed unanimously in the House of Representatives last year.
In October, Donnelly and a bipartisan group of Senators sent a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma urging HHS and CMS to focus on strategies for reducing maternal mortality rates in the United States and improving health outcomes for mothers and their children.
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 the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 700 women and 23,000 infants die in the United States each year due to complications during pregnancy or delivery.