Friday, September 27, 2013

U.S. Senate Passes Preemie Legislation

On September 25, 2013, the U.S. Senate passed the Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who deliver Infants Early (PREEMIE) Reauthorization Act (S. 252), with an amendment.  This bipartisan legislation expands federal research and activities related to preterm birth, and reauthorizes legislation that was signed into law in December 2006 (P.L. 109-450)

At this time, S. 252, as amended, has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee for further consideration.

Summary of Key Provisions (As Amended)

Federal Research Activities Related to Preterm Birth
  • Authorizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct epidemiology studies on various factors related to prematurity; improve national data to track preterm births; and continue efforts to prevent preterm birth.  All of these activities would be subject to the availability of appropriations.
  • Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees outlining the progress and results of the studies every two years.
  • Authorizes $1.9 million for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2018 to carry-out CDC activities.
Public and Health Care Provider Education and Support Services
  • Allows for the continuation of HHS demonstration projects to: improve information on prematurity to health professionals, other health care providers, and the public; and improve the treatment and outcomes for babies born preterm.  Projects may include development of information on the core risk factors for preterm labor and delivery; medically indicated deliveries before full-term; and the importance of preconception and prenatal care, including:  smoking cessation, weight maintenance and good nutrition (including folic acid); and stress management, among other things.
  • Authorizes $1.9 million for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2018 to carry-out demonstration projects.
Other Activities
  • Allows the HHS Secretary to create an Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality.  The Committee would provide recommendations concerning:  (1) HHS programs to reduce infant mortality and improve the health status of pregnant women and infants; (2) strategies to coordinate various federal programs with State, local, and private programs that address factors regarding infant mortality; (3) the Healthy Start Program and the Healthy People 2020 infant mortality objectives; and (4) efforts to reduce preterm births through research, programs, and education.
  • Requires the Advisory Committee to develop a plan to conduct and support research, education, and programs on preterm birth through HHS.  The plan will include input from scientists, patients and advocacy groups, as appropriate.
  • Requires the HHS Secretary to identify an agency within HHS to coordinate existing studies on hospital readmissions of preterm infants.  With one year, the agency will submit a report to Congress and the HHS Secretary containing its findings and recommendations to reduce rates of preventable hospital readmissions for preterm babies.


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