Two Arizona lawmakers are working to improve maternal and infant health with a package of new bills.
State Sens. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, and Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, introduced legislation this session that they hope will result in better pregnancy outcomes for Arizona women.
The pair’s goals are to:
- SB 1170: Extend dental coverage to women on Arizona’s Medicaid program.
- SB 1290: Establish a task force on maternal mental health.
- SB 1391: Add e-cigarettes to the Clean Indoor Air Act.
- SB 1392: Extend Medicaid coverage to women for one year after giving birth.
- SB 1472: Create incentives to increase the rate of postpartum doctor visits for women on Medicaid.
- SB 1571: Add the diseases X-ALD and spinal muscular atrophy to newborn screening panels.
The legislation would cost a total of about $18 million, according to The Associated Press.
Carter told the AP that having babies born without complications more than offsets the cost of these proposals.
“We save babies and save mothers and it ultimately also saves the state money long-term,” she said.
Most of the bills are in early stages of the legislative process, but some are beginning to see strong momentum. SB 1290 has already been passed by the Senate and has been sent to the House, where it must also be approved before Gov. Doug Ducey can sign it into law.
Advocates for women’s health care have also been a force behind the legislation. More than 100 volunteers with March of Dimes lobbied for the package of bills at the Arizona Capitol last week.
The nonprofit was part of a push last year to pass legislation that Brophy McGee sponsored to create a state committee to research maternal mortality.
The group was concerned with how many women were dying during childbirth in the state. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, about 25 women died per 100,000 live births from 2012 to 2015, with 89% of those fatalities ruled preventable.
The House and Senate both unanimously passed the bill, SB 1040, and Ducey signed it in June.
This year’s package of bills expands on SB 1040’s goal by aiming not just to prevent deaths, but to ensure wellbeing for moms and their babies.