The Alabama Senate General Fund Committee met and approved a stripped-down 2021 budget that includes funding for the Maternal Mortality Review Committee. MMRC has been a Medical Association priority this session, and we applaud the chairman and committee for funding this much-needed program.
Just a few months ago, state leaders were optimistic the general fund budget for FY2021 would contain raises for various state employees and revenue increases for many agencies. But the coronavirus pandemic changed much of that.
Many have been trying to ascertain just how big of an impact COVID-19 – and Alabama’s actions to slow the spread of the virus – would have on state revenue. Some have cautioned of coming cuts and “bare bones” funding due to the financial uncertainty.
Thankfully, when senators approved their version of the 2021 budget Tuesday, the committee appropriated $478,000 for MMRC.
“I want to thank Chairman Albritton for prioritizing research on maternal mortality in these unprecedented times,” Larry Stutts, M.D., a member of the Senate General Fund Committee, said. “It’s important to move ahead with funding this now in the 2021 budget so we can ultimately craft a strategic plan to reverse the upward trend in Alabama’s increasing maternal deaths.”
Alabama’s maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the nation (and the developed world). At 36.4 deaths per 100,000 live births, Alabama’s maternal mortality rate is more than double that of the national average. By investing in research, Alabama may be able to realize substantial reductions in its maternal mortality rate. Some states, because of their MMRC programs, have seen a decrease in maternal deaths of more than fifty percent.
“We sincerely appreciate senators keeping funding for the MMRC in the 2021 budget,” said Dr. Grace Thomas, assistant state health officer for family services at the Alabama Department of Public Health. “Alabama’s maternal mortality rate is one of the worst in the nation and we need to figure out why. This funding will allow us to more appropriately examine the current crisis and develop recommendations that better protect our mothers.”
Funding the MMRC was a major Medical Association legislative priority this year, and we appreciate the work of the MMRC coalition – including March of Dimes, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Johnson and Johnson – to keep this issue a topic of discussion. We would also like to thank all the physicians and health professionals who used our advocacy portal to contact their legislator in support of the MMRC.
The bill now moves to the Senate floor.