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May 25, 2021

Senate HELP Committee advances six bipartisan health care bills on maternal health and workplace protections, provider wellbeing, research funding, and physical fitness

On May 25, the Senate Committee Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) advanced six bipartisan health care bills out of committee, all by voice vote. Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) called for the bills to be passed into law as soon as possible, and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) applauded the "meaningful, bipartisan progress" on the legislation and said it is a lesson on the importance of working through regular order. Both Murray and Burr began their opening statements by highlighting the importance of legislation targeted at improving maternal health outcomes and access — the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act (S. 1675) and the Rural Maternal and Obstetric Modernization of Services Act (S. 1491), with Sen. Murray saying that "it is not just a tragedy; it is an outrage" that the U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world. Regarding the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (S. 1658), Sen. Murray added that it will close loopholes that currently leave 9 million working mothers uncovered by federal protections to ensure they have enough break time and a private place to pump, calling the bill a "common sense way to help ensure our economy works for working families."

Both Murray and Burr also expressed strong support for the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (S. 610), aimed at improving the mental and behavioral health of health care providers. Sen. Murray noted that physicians have the highest suicide rate of any profession in the country and said that while burnout has long been an issue, there is an urgent need to act following the trauma experienced by health care providers throughout the pandemic. Sen. Burr also expressed his strong support and said the bill will help "health care providers get the support they need." They also both applauded the Supporting the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration Act (S. 1662), which Sen. Burr said will "allow the agencies to be better partners in research," and the Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act (S. 1301) to help Americans improve their health through physical activity.

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HELP Committee markup