Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly announced his support today for the bipartisan Improving Access to Maternity Care Act. The legislation seeks to help reduce the shortage of obstetrical services in underserved and rural areas. Currently, 32 Indiana counties lack hospital-based obstetrical services, which can result in Hoosiers being forced to drive long distances or unable to access adequate maternity care.

The Improving Access to Maternity Care Act 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. The companion bill to the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act passed unanimously in the House last year.

Donnelly said, “Hoosier mothers deserve access to quality maternal care, no matter where they live. Unfortunately, too many Indiana communities face a shortage or even lack of maternity care professionals and services altogether, which can have a harmful impact on expectant mothers, families, and ultimately babies. We must improve access to maternity care, and this bill would help address a critical need, particularly in underserved and rural areas across our state.”

Dr. James Turner, Medical Director of the Richard G. Lugar Center for Rural Health, said, “Over 30 counties in Indiana are without hospital-based Obstetrical Services for pregnant women. This is especially true in rural areas of the state. This bill is a first step in helping identify all the areas in our state where it is difficult for women and their families to find the care they need.”