HHS through HRSA https://www.hrsa.gov awarded nearly $9 million to launch the “Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) program. Recipients include Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau Missouri ($3,000,000), Taos Health Systems, Inc. in Taos New Mexico ($2,981,737), and the Bexar County Hospital District in San Antonio Texas ($2,981,737).
The recipients will receive up to $600,000 in a planning year and up to $800,000 in three implementation years to pilot, test, and develop models to improve access to maternal obstetrics care in rural communities.
The RMOMS program is administered by HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP https://www.hrsa.gov/rural-health and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) https://mchb.hrsa.gov. The program is part of several maternal health investments made by HRSA to support local and state level efforts to improve maternal health nationwide.
The new program is unique because networks require stakeholders to include rural hospitals, health centers, State Medicaid offices and Healthy Start, along with home visiting programs. The intention is to develop sustainable strategies at a regional level.
The networks will develop strategies that will focus on rural hospital obstetric service aggregation, which will involve developing a network approach to coordinating a continuum of care, leveraging telehealth and specialty care, and producing financial sustainability.
Representative Torres Small (D-NM) https://torressmall.house introduced bipartisan legislation called the “Rural MOMS Act of 2019” https://www.congress.gov with Representatives Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Abby Finkenauer (D-IA), Bob Latta (R-OH), Tom Cole (R-OK) and Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM).
The legislation was introduced to improve healthcare access for new and expectant mothers in rural communities nationwide. According to Representative Newhouse, “The Rural MOMS Act will expand data collection and telehealth programs for rural providers across the nation.”
Specifically, the Rural MOMS Act of 2019 will:
- Create Rural Maternal and Obstetric Care Data improvements by requiring CDC to coordinate efforts to report on women’s health conditions according to sociocultural and geographic contexts, plus do research on pregnancy-related deaths
- Rural Obstetric Network Grants awarded will be used to create regional innovation networks to address maternal mortality morbidity rates as well as birth outcomes
- Expand Existing Federal Telehealth Grant Programs to include birth and postnatal services as part of the telehealth networks. Funding will provide for ultrasound machines, fetal monitoring equipment, and other pregnancy related technology
- Launch a rural maternal and obstetric care training demonstration for family medicine physicians, obstetricians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, midwives, doulas, and other medical professionals in rural community based settings
- Provide a Report on Maternal Care in Rural Areas to use to identify the locations of gaps in maternity care and make recommendations to standardize data collection on maternal mortality and morbidity.