Sen. Somers: “Improving maternal health care access is a priority.”

July 24, 2023

For Immediate Release

Sen. Somers Applauds Signing of Maternal Health Legislation

Sen. Heather Somers, Ranking Senator on the legislature’s Public Health Committee, today applauded the ceremonial signing into law of legislation she co-sponsored that aims to bolster Connecticut’s dwindling maternity and infant health services.

The law will increase access to maternal health services by:

  • creating a license category for free-standing birth centers for low-risk pregnancies
  • opening a universal nursing home visitation program for new parents and newborn infants
  • certifying services by doulas and midwives — trained professionals who provide emotional and physical support to their clients during childbirth.

“Improving maternal health care access is a priority for me,” Sen. Somers said. “This new health equity law moves us in the right direction.  Deaths from pregnancy-related complications are often preventable.  These preventable deaths frequently occur in rural areas and places with limited maternal health care access.

“In recent years, multiple hospital maternity wards in Connecticut have been shuttered,” Sen. Somers added. “Women in labor cannot always make it to a distant hospital in time. We want to do all we can to address maternal mortality while offering choices in birthing care and new resources for expecting mothers.  That includes critical pre-natal visits. This law is about promoting patient-centered, community-based care.  It will help to offer safe, nearby alternatives to hospital labor units with an emphasis on emotional wellness in addition to physical health.”

Sen. Somers noted that each certified birth center would work with nearby hospitals. So, if an emergency occurred during delivery, the patient would have access to a higher level of care.

Sen. Somers said she would continue to push for expanded maternal health care access and awareness about the new law. Last year, Sen. Somers co-sponsored a new law which:

  • Required the state’s maternal mortality review committee to develop education materials on mental health disorders for pregnant and postpartum individuals; screening tools for patients experiencing intimate partner violence, postpartum mood disorders and substance use disorders; and indicators of intimate partner violence for hospitals and obstetricians.
  • Required facilities where births occur to establish a patient portal where postpartum individuals can access educational materials.
  • Required facilities where births occur to provide educational materials to postpartum individuals on the health and safety of postpartum mental health disorders.
  • Established May as maternal mental health month and May 5th as Maternal Mental Health Day.

In 2021, Sen. Somers backed legislation to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for women to one year. Previously, women whose labor and delivery were covered by Medicaid, but who did not qualify for full Medicaid coverage, were entitled to just 60 days of postpartum care.