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Sen. Baldwin Tours Weston Facility After Pres. Trump Signs Bill

U.S. Government

VILLAGE OF WESTON, WI (WSAU) -- US Senator Tammy Baldwin toured women's health facilities at the Marshfield Clinic Weston Campus on Friday and spoke with leaders of the statewide system about the challenges they face in providing prenatal care to women in rural areas.

The Democrat, who's bipartisan Improving Access to Maternity Care Act was recently signed into law by President Trump, used the stop to hear about ongoing concerns such as access to qualified professionals and recruiting specialists to less populated areas. "More residencies are available in urban areas than rural areas, we need to change that," said Baldwin. Both she and officials from Marshfield Clinic agreed that statistics show those who receive training outside of areas like Madison and Milwaukee are more likely to stay and advance their careers in rural areas.

The legislation is designed to help reduce maternity care shortages by identifying areas lacking maternal health professionals to help incentivize providers to practice in these underserved, often rural areas. Baldwin says in many cases mothers may have to drive 90 miles or more to access care or to have their babies once they are in labor. She told a story of a woman in the Sister Bay area of Door County who drove over an hour by herself after her labor began to get to the doctor that was going to deliver her baby. "This is a matter of enormous interest because we know that good maternity care leads to healthier babies and healthier moms," said Baldwin. "Low birthweight babies are often going to incur very costly services during their first year of life compared to a full term baby."

During a roundtable discussion with providers and leaders of the Marshfield Clinic system, Baldwin compared the problem to others such as a lack of dentists, primary care physicians, and mental health professionals across the state.

Baldwin authored the bill with Alaska's Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who says her state has similar challenges.

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