The Defense Department would have to undertake a detailed study of service members' and spouses' access to maternity care within the military health care system under bills being introduced Thursday by a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both chambers of Congress.
Lawmakers hope the bills will ultimately improve access to prenatal, birthing and postpartum care for those covered by Tricare amid reports in recent years of women struggling to be seen by an obstetrician.
“Ensuring the well-being of our military families means addressing the unique challenges mothers face while they, or their spouses, serve in the military,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., one of the bill's sponsors, said in a statement to Military.com ahead of the measure's public release. “The Improving Access to Maternal Health for Military and Dependent Moms Act is a crucial step toward understanding and overcoming the obstacles to maternal health care within the Military Health System.”
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The Senate bill is also sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., while Reps. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Terri Sewell, D-Ala., introduced an identical version in the House.
The bill comes after reports in recent years that staffing shortages at military treatment facilities have left expectant mothers struggling to find a doctor. The shortages have been linked to efforts to…