Posted on September 13, 2018
WASHINGTON, September 13, 2018 — The Senate passed legislation last night sponsored by U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) to reduce infant deaths and improve infant health by continuing research and education programs aimed at preventing preterm births.
“In Tennessee, about 11 percent of babies are born preterm,” said Alexander, who is chairman of the Senate health committee. “I first introduced the PREEMIE Act in 2003, with the encouragement of the March of Dimes, to support health care professionals caring for babies born premature. Since it was first signed into law in 2006 and reauthorized in 2013, this law has helped give more babies the chance at long and healthy lives, so it is important the Senate passed this legislation today, so the president can sign it before many of the programs expire on September 30.”
“About 1 in 10 babies was born premature in 2016, including nearly 9 percent of babies in Colorado,” said Bennet, who is a member of the Senate health committee. “It’s for those infants that the Senate passed this bipartisan legislation today. Reauthorization is the first step to expand on the important research and education that was started in 2006 as a result of the PREEMIE Act. This bill will also combat the opioid crisis with an added focus on screening and treatment for substance use disorders, so that mothers and babies can receive the care they need. Every child deserves a healthy start in life, and this law will help ensure that.”
Senator Alexander introduced the PREEMIE Act—to help reduce infant mortality—in 2003, and it was first signed into law in 2006. The law was reauthorized in 2013 and was also sponsored by Alexander and Bennet.
The legislation that passed the Senate today reauthorizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) research and data collection on infants born premature and reauthorizes programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) aimed at improving the treatment and outcomes of infants born premature for the next five years. This includes grants to help providers and the public understand the potential risk factors for having a preterm baby, such as smoking, and grants to screen and treat expectant mothers for substance use disorders, including opioid use disorders. The bill also includes new provisions to address maternal health.