Representatives Ryan (D-OH), Gonzalez (R-OH), Underwood (D-IL) and Stivers (R-OH) Introduce Legislation to Combat Infant Mortality | Congressman Tim Ryan
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Representatives Ryan (D-OH), Gonzalez (R-OH), Underwood (D-IL) and Stivers (R-OH) Introduce Legislation to Combat Infant Mortality

October 23, 2019
Press Release
The Healthy Start Reauthorization Act provides $135 million to reduce infant mortality

Washington, DC – Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Lauren Underwood (D-IL), and Steve Stivers (R-OH) introduced bipartisan legislation to combat infant mortality by investing in the Healthy Start for Infants Program. The Healthy Start Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 4801) reauthorizes appropriations for this program for five years at $135 million. For every 1,000 live births in the United States, nearly six babies will not live to see their first birthday.  According to the CDC, one in 10 babies is born premature, the leading cause of infant death. The Healthy Start Program was established in 1991 to work to improve birth outcomes in communities with high rates of infant mortality and other complications. Infant mortality rates in Healthy Start programs are lower than the national average. To view the full text of the bill, click here. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Burr (R-NC), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced the Senate companion.

“Infant mortality is a public health crisis in Ohio and across the country. In Youngstown, an African-American baby is more likely to die before age one than a baby born in Iran. That is unacceptable,” said Congressman Ryan. “Healthy Start has been on the frontline of the fight to save our youngest citizens for more than 28 years. It’s more important now than ever that we support their work, and this bipartisan legislation does exactly that. I’m proud to introduce the Healthy Start Reauthorization Act with Representatives Underwood, Gonzalez and Stivers to build upon the success of this important program and give every child, in every community, a healthy start in life.”

 “Cuyahoga County has had one of the highest infant death rates in our state and country for more than five decades now, and it is critical that we confront this challenge head on. We know from years of research that access to essential health care services before and after birth are two of the most critical components to infant health. The community-based approach used by the Healthy Start for Infants Program is essential to providing access to that care in the areas where we need it the most,” said Congressman Gonzalez. “This legislation helps guarantee the Healthy Start Program receives the funding needed to ensure more Northeast families are able to celebrate their child’s first birthday.”

“The care we provide for infants is a direct reflection of who we are as a country,” said Representative Underwood. “The bipartisan Healthy Start Reauthorization Act, which I’m proud to introduce with my colleagues Representatives Ryan, Gonzalez, and Stivers is both a reauthorization of a crucial program that saves lives and a statement of our values: every baby in this country is worth our protection, investment, and care.”

“There are many things that make me proud to be an Ohioan, but our infant mortality rate is not one of them,” Congressman Stivers said. “We have a responsibility to do all that we can to ensure babies have a healthy start in life, and I’m proud to work with Representatives Ryan, Gonzalez, and Underwood to reauthorize the Healthy Start program to support women and families through pregnancy and after to do just that.”

The Healthy Start Reauthorization Act is supported by National Healthy Start Association, March of Dimes, American Academy of Pediatrics, First Focus Campaign for children, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

The Healthy Start for Infants Program partners with community-based organizations, local health departments, and universities to provide early delivery of services to women and families before, during, and after pregnancy. This program uses proven strategies to reduce rates of many infant disorders, such as low birthweight, birth defects, preterm birth, and prenatal opioid exposure among many others. In the long term, the cost of medical and social services provided to low birthweight infants and children born prematurely is exorbitant, costing taxpayers $26.2 billion per year. During the first year of life, expenses for the smallest surviving babies average $273,900. These costs, both monetary and the loss of a young life, can be avoided through the community-based support that the Healthy Start for Infants Program provides.