Congressman Greg Walden

Representing the 2nd District of Oregon

Greg Walden Advocates for Needed Improvements to Maternal Health Care for Oregonians

September 10, 2019
Press Release

Click here or on the picture above to watch Rep. Walden's full opening statement.

Today, Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) discussed the need to improve maternal health care during an Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health legislative hearing entitled “Improving Maternal Health: Legislation to Advance Prevention Efforts and Access to Care.” Walden said, “The critical issue of maternal morbidity and mortality -- an issue that is literally a matter of life and death for all women across the country -- is a difficult topic, and one that is close to my heart.”

“Despite massive innovation in health care and advancements in technology, recent reports have indicated that the number of women dying due to pregnancy complications has increased in recent years,” said Walden. “The effects of such a tragedy on any family are impossible to comprehend.”

One witness at today’s hearing was Wanda Irving, who lost her daughter Shalon -- just 36 years old -- to complications after the birth of Shalon's daughter Soleil. Wanda testified that what infuriated her was that, “Shalon’s death was a preventable tragedy. She was a 36-year-old woman of color who went to her health care workers again and again in distress -- and she was not properly treated. Even Shalon’s many advantages -- two master’s degrees, her dual-titled Ph.D. in Sociology and Gerontology, her CHES certification, her work as an epidemiologist, her gold-plated insurance, and rock-solid support system -- had not been enough to ensure Shalon’s survival. Shalon deserved better. Soleil deserved to know her mother.”

The hearing built off progress made under Walden’s leadership last Congress, which included President Trump signing the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act into law that improves data collection and reporting around maternal mortality and develops systems at all levels of government in order to better understand the burden of maternal complications. 

“We have continued to lead the way this Congress as well -- and on a bipartisan basis, I might add -- sending letters earlier this year to six Health and Human Services agencies asking for the latest information on what they are doing to combat maternal mortality,” said Walden. 

Walden did share disappointment that the hearing was not as bipartisan as it could have been, with only one of the bills being considered even having a Republican cosponsor. He expressed frustration that the majority had not considered the Excellence in Maternal Health Act, a bipartisan bill he strongly supports, which would authorize grants to identify, develop, and disseminate maternal health quality best practices. The bill also supports training to reduce and prevent discrimination and implicit biases, enhances Federal efforts to establish or support perinatal quality collaboratives, and authorizes grants for establishing and/or operating innovative evidence-informed programs that deliver integrated services to pregnant and postpartum women. 

He concluded his opening statement saying, “I know we will learn much about the landscape of maternity care [today] and what more we can do to improve the health outcomes in expectant new mothers across the country.”

To watch the full hearing click here.