AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new bill filed aims to improve the transparency of maternal death data that the state collects in a biennial report. This follows the delayed release of this year’s report.

Rep. Shawn Thierry, D-Houston, filed the bill after filing maternal mortality registry bills in the last legislative session and the session before. Those bills did not pass.

House Bill 663 would require reporting certain maternal mortality information to the Texas Department of State Health Services and creating a workgroup for a maternal mortality and morbidity data registry. The registry would collect patient information and aggregate reports on the health status, health behaviors and service delivery needs of maternal patients, the bill says.

This year’s maternal death data was not released by the Sept. 1 deadline mandated by state law. But the law does not say what happens when the deadline is not met. The Department of State Health Services said in October that the data is expected to be released before the upcoming legislative session. Previously, the data was expected to be released before summer.

“Without this report, essentially, my colleagues and I don’t know whether we’re bringing a garden hose to put out a flame or whether we need ten fire trucks to put out a four-alarm fire,” Thierry previously told KXAN. “And as I’ve said, right now, all we know is that DSHS has cut off water.”

The Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee releases the biennial report. The group studies and reviews:

  • Cases of pregnancy-related deaths;
  • Trends, rates, or disparities in pregnancy-related deaths and severe maternal morbidity;
  • Health conditions and factors that disproportionately affect the most at-risk populations; and
  • Best practices and programs operating in other states that have reduced rates of deaths related to pregnancy.

A 2019 KXAN investigation dug into reasons mothers die during pregnancy or after giving birth. It also found the exact number of women dying isn’t clear due to data collection errors.

Read more maternal data coverage from KXAN: