Thank you staff columnist Lyz Lenz for the column Aug 18 entitled “Mothers in Iowa in crisis, but who cares?” Evidence shows that increasing distance to maternity care is associated with an increase in preterm birth and out of hospital birth.
In June, Medicare Services convened a rural maternity summit and webinar in Washington, D.C. which included various national stakeholder groups. Also in June, Gov Reynolds’ office organized a maternal health round-table. The Iowa Department of Public Health is convening an OB summit this fall.
Iowa must take action to find short and long term solutions to dwindling access to maternity services in rural areas, including training personnel in hospitals without maternity units to respond appropriately to maternity emergencies using evidence-based care algorithms. Such care plans have been implemented in California, with dramatic decrease in maternal mortality.
Improved payment for maternity services from federal insurance will help “keep the lights on” for rural hospitals, which have a higher proportion of federally insured clients. In May, Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer helped introduce bipartisan legislation to expand the Conrad 30 program, a J-1 visa program to address provider shortage areas. Increase in student loan forgiveness programs, tax incentives, and assistance with medical malpractice liability insurance are all other ways which Iowa could help recruit and retain health care providers for our smaller communities.
We must take action on behalf of Iowa moms. Research a candidate’s record on health care issues. Stay informed, contact your governmental representatives, advocate for positive change.