Rep. Lois Capps, R.N. (CA-24) and Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (TX-26) have introduced the Improving Access to Maternity Act, a bipartisan bill that would increase women’s access to maternity health care in urban and rural areas. Currently, the National Health Service Corps provides loan repayment to physicians and other health professionals who agree to work in areas designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA).
There are currently three designated HPSAs – dental, mental health, and primary care. Most of these shortage areas are found in rural areas or urban areas where, due to geographic constraints or population density, there are not enough health care providers to fill basic health care needs. Currently, maternal health care providers like obstetrician gynecologists and certified nurse midwives participate in the program, but are only eligible to practice in primary care shortage areas. This bill develops a fourth HPSA based specifically on maternity care, so that these health care professionals are incentivized to work in the communities that need them most, filling those gaps in maternity health care for women in need.