Bennet, Alexander Introduce “PREEMIE” Bill to Give Infants Hope for Healthier Lives

Legislation updates programs aimed at preventing preterm births

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the committee, this week introduced legislation to reduce infant deaths and improve infant health by continuing research and education programs aimed at preventing preterm births.

“About 1 in 10 babies was born premature in 2016, including nearly 9 percent of babies in Colorado,” said Bennet. “We must reauthorize this bipartisan law to continue and expand on the important research and education that was started in 2006 as a result of the PREEMIE Act. This reauthorization will also combat the opioid crisis with a focus on screening and treatment for substance use disorders, so that mothers and babies can receive the care they need.  Every child deserves a healthy start in life, and this law will help ensure that.”

“In Tennessee, 11 percent of infants are born prematurely, putting them at an increased risk of complicated health problems,” said Alexander. “Since 2006, this law has helped researchers, doctors, and parents prevent premature births, so it is important that we continue our work to give more babies the chance for long and healthy lives. This legislation includes updates to account for the opioid crisis, which has led to babies being born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, and to support the expectant mother—so that she has a healthy pregnancy and her baby is born healthy.”

Senator Alexander introduced the PREEMIE Act in 2003, and it was first signed into law in 2006, to help reduce infant mortality. The law was first reauthorized in 2013, sponsored by Bennet and Alexander, and needs to be reauthorized this year before many of the programs expire on September 30th. Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) are expected to introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

This legislation reauthorizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) research and data collection on infants born premature and programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration aimed at improving the treatment and outcome of infants born premature. This includes grants to help doctors and the public understand the potential risk factors for having a preterm baby, such as smoking, and grants to screen and treat expectant mothers for substance use disorders, including opioid use disorders. This reauthorization also includes updated language to address maternal health. The Senate health committee plans to markup the reauthorization on June 20th, 2018.