Menendez, Sullivan Reintroduce the Bipartisan Tech to Save Moms Act


JERSEY CITY, NJ – US Senators Bob Menendez (DN.J.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation to support the use of technology to close the gap in maternal health care and the racial and ethnic disparities in outcomes of to address maternal mortality.

The Tech to Save Moms Act invests in and promotes the integration and development of telehealth and other digital tools that can help reduce maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity. The legislation is based on a recommendation from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that indicates that the use of digital tools, including an expansion of remote patient monitoring and the promotion of virtual training and capacity, plays a critical role in addressing specific challenges patients and providers are facing, especially in underserved communities.

“Before the pandemic, New Jersey had one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country and alarming racial disparities in maternal health outcomes. The COVID-19 pandemic only increased barriers to equitable maternity care,” Senator Menendez said. “The Tech to Save Moms Act will allow us to leverage new technologies to improve the integration of telehealth services in maternal health care, combat implicit biases and ultimately reduce disparities in maternal health outcomes.”

“Mortality rates for expectant mothers in the United States are far too high,” Senator Sullivan said. “In Alaska, this challenge is even more difficult for mothers who live in our remote communities, hundreds of miles from the nearest health care facility. New, emerging digital tools can enable a provider to assess mothers wherever they are, improve health outcomes, and lower unacceptably high rates of maternal mortality I am excited to join Senator Menendez in reintroducing this legislation to use the best technology today to keep mothers healthy and save lives across America and Alaska.

The Tech to Save Moms Act is included in the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, recently introduced by Senator Cory Booker (DN.J.) and Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.-14). This comprehensive package includes twelve bills to end maternal mortality and close racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes.

“Access to equitable maternal health care is an urgent issue that requires innovative solutions,” Senator Booker said. “This bill recognizes the transformative potential of technology to reduce maternal mortality and address racial disparities in maternal health outcomes. By investing in telehealth and digital tools, we can overcome barriers to care, implicitly fight prejudice and ensure that all mothers, regardless of their location or background, have access to quality care.

The Tech to Save Moms Act will:

  1. Require the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation to consider models that improve the integration of telehealth services into maternal health care
  2. Provide funding for technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity-building models that will develop and disseminate instructional programming and training for maternity care providers in rural and underserved areas, covering topics such as:

    1. Safety and quality improvement
    2. Addressing maternal mental and behavioral health conditions
    3. Identification of social determinants of health risks in the prenatal and postpartum periods

  3. Establish a grant program to promote digital tools designed to improve maternal health outcomes, particularly in rural and underserved communities
  4. Commission a comprehensive study on the use of technology in maternity care to reduce maternal mortality, morbidity and disparities

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 700 women die each year in the United States due to pregnancy or childbirth complications, and black, Native American, and Alaska Native women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy -related causes than white women. According to the 2021 Nurture NJ Strategic Plan, from 2014 to 2016, black women in New Jersey had about seven times more pregnancy-related deaths (46.9 per 100,000 live births) than white women (6.5 per 100,000 live births).

As defined by the CDC, Severe Maternal Morbidity (SMM) is the unexpected outcomes of labor and delivery that result in significant short- or long-term consequences for a woman’s health. New Jersey’s SMM rates are among the highest in the US, according to a 2020 report by the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH). In 2018, rates of SMM among New Jersey Black, non-Hispanic women were nearly three times greater than those of non-Hispanic white women.

In 2021, Sens. Menendez and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) first introduced the Tech to Save Moms Act to reduce the mortality rate among new and expectant mothers in the US by providing innovative emerging digital tools that can assess mothers wherever they are lie – no matter how far, and regardless of their socio-economic status.

The Tech to Save Moms Act is supported by more than 180 organizations, including the American Academy of Nursing, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Nurses Association, American Telemedicine Association, Association of Black Women Physicians, Black Mamas Matter Alliance, MomsRising, National Organization for Women, National Urban League, National Women’s Law Center, New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, Partners in Health, and Protect Our Care.

“As part of our longstanding commitment to expanding access to care for underserved communities, the ATA and ATA Action proudly stand behind the Tech to Save Moms Act, introduced by telehealth champions Senators Menendez and Sullivan, to improve the outcomes of to improve maternal health for rural and maternal underserved populations,” said Kyle Zebley, senior vice president, public policy, American Telemedicine Association, and executive director, ATA Action. “This bipartisan legislation leverages virtual care to help bridge gaps in maternal health care, including testing telehealth models in maternity care services, providing grants to expand technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity models to pregnant and postpartum helping women, and authorizing grants to increase access to digital tools.”

For a copy of the bill text click HERE.

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