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House Subcommittee Examines Health Care and Treatment

On December 9, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on several bills, including the Accurate Education for Prenatal Screening Act (H.R. 3441), the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act (H.R. 1209), and the Educating to Prevent Eating Disorders Act (H.R. 4153).

H.R. 3441

Sponsored by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), the measure would direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop, implement, and maintain two programs: one to educate patients and one to educate health care providers about the purpose, reasons, conditions, and risks and benefits of DNA prenatal screenings and diagnostic testing.

Speaking in support of the legislation, Anthony R. Gregg, professor and chief, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, University of Florida Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, stated, “[I]t is imperative for clinicians to provide patients with both pre‐test and post‐test counseling when offering NIPS [noninvasive prenatal screening] in order to avoid any potential patient harm or confusion. We recognize that with nearly 4 million U.S. births annually, it is imperative that obstetric care providers, including obstetricians, family medicine physicians, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners, have access to accurate educational materials that ensure patients receive accurate pre‐test counseling. Pre‐test education and counseling leading to informed decision‐making are critical components of any genetic screening process.”

H.R. 1209

Sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), the legislation would require the Health Resources and Services Administration to designate maternity care health professional shortage areas and review these designations at least annually. In addition, the bill would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to collect and publish data on health professional shortage areas so availability of maternal health professionals can be compared by professional category and geographic region.

Ginger Breedlove, president, American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM), stated, “The goal of this legislation is to identify areas in the U.S. experiencing significant shortages of full scope maternity care professionals, including midwives and obstetricians/gynecologists. Greater information on the shortages of maternity care providers that exist will enable Congress and the administration to better address needs of women of childbearing age and allow appropriate resources to be focused on those needs. ACNM believes expanding access to maternity care professionals in underserved areas can reduce overall maternity care costs in the U.S. by ensuring women have access to necessary prenatal care and delivery options.”

H.R. 4153

Sponsored by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), the bill would establish a pilot program to test the impact of early intervention on the prevention, management, and course of eating disorders.

Ovidio Bermudez, chief clinical officer and medical director, Child and Adolescent Services, National Eating Disorders Association, stated, “In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.” Mr. Bermudez continued, “But the good news is that eating disorders are treatable. Early recognition may prevent the development of eating disorders and subsequent chronic physical and mental health conditions, including a high risk of suicide. Studies have demonstrated a link between early intervention and better treatment outcomes.”

The following witnesses also testified:

  • Chad Asplund, director, Athletic Medicine, head team physician, adjunct associate professor, Health and Kinesiology, Georgia Southern University;
  • Jonathan Reiner, director, Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, George Washington University Hospital; and
  • Deborah E. Trautman, president and CEO, American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
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