A legislative package was introduced earlier this year as part of a statewide effort to reverse New Jersey’s ranking as one of the worst states in terms of maternal mortality — with 37.3 deaths per 100,000 births. One of the bills establishing a maternal healthcare pilot program, sponsored by Assembly Democrats Linda Carter, Annette Chaparro and Valerie Vainieri Huttle, passed the full Assembly Thursday, 75-0-0.
The goal of the pilot program in this bill (A-4936) is to utilize and evaluate the efficacy of a decision-making tool developed by the Commissioner of Health for hospitals and birthing centers. The tool aims to improve both patient and healthcare provider knowledge regarding maternity care, while also promoting collaboration and preparatory planning to improve the patient’s overall experience.
This decision-making tool would be comprised of patient questionnaires as well as educational fact sheets and brochures. These documents would inform patients about different healthcare providers, potential complications of certain procedures and delivery methods, techniques for dealing with labor, and various treatment options for dangerous maternal conditions — should they arise.
Participating hospitals and birthing centers would assess the decision-making tool for the duration of this pilot program, and then issue a report explaining how effectively it improves maternal health outcomes.
“New Jersey has an appalling record of pregnancy-related deaths, especially when it comes to black women,” said Carter (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union). “We cannot ignore this crisis any longer, which is why it is absolutely vital we pass legislation to help improve maternal health services.”
“For too long, our state has failed to provide mothers with the care and resources they need throughout their pregnancies,” said Chaparro (D-Hudson). “This bill is one of the many ways we plan to address this issue, by educating both patients and medical practitioners about maternal healthcare.”
“A collaborative effort between healthcare providers and patients can make all the difference in regards to childbirth,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “This program will help promote communication and supply the information needed to safely and successfully bring a new life into the world.”
The bill will now head to the Governor for further consideration.