Health Care Reform will Help Moms and Babies.

Democrats were successful at passing the first major health care legislation since the New Deal. This is great news for moms and babies. The law has added the following provisions related to maternal/pregnancy and birth health care:

Medicaid reimbursement will be available for Certified Professional Midwives working in licensed birthing centers. I am hoping this will open up the door for midwives to open up birthing centers all across the nation, allowing low income women living in rural and underserved areas better access to midwifery-based maternal and child care. This is a win-win situation for women and midwives-hopefully providing choices in health care that more effectively address the cultural differences in the communities where these women live. When women feel honored, and are being cared for and served by providers that understand their culture, language and social norms, it will create an environment of support and empathy-rather than one that may leave women feeling scared and powerless at a very vulnerable time in their lives. Midwives can now effectively serve these women knowing that their work will be paid for by insurance.

The law puts in to place the Equitable Reimbursement Act for Certified Nurse Midwives. Previously, Certified Nurse Midwives were reimbursed by Medicare (federal) at a rate 35% less than other providers creating a barrier to health care for women receiving Medicare. Now, Certified Nurse Midwives will be able to provide care to poor and at-risk populations at full reimbursement rates, creating a scenario where CNM’s will be able to market their services to these populations who could greatly benefit from a midwife model of care.

Pre-existing conditions such as previous c-section, pregnancy and history of domestic violence will no longer be held against women and used against them to deny them health coverage. This has been a ridiculous state of affairs that has been going on for decades. If a woman of childbearing age was applying for health insurance, her premiums would be higher simply because there was the possibility that she might become pregnant in the future. This happened to me. I’m very pleased about this particular provision.

Although I was a bit dismayed to read about the executive order they needed to enact to ensure that abortion services are not covered under the new legislation, evidence has suggested that women who have access to health care are less likely to have abortions in the first place- thereby reducing the abortion rate. The issue is covered nicely here. I understand how the issue of abortion is such a hot button, and I really feel that our society is not ready for abortion to be federally funded- but maybe someday…

All in all, this a great victory for those of us in health care-and for all women. Congratulations Democrats! I am really proud of our leaders for getting this passed in the face of such opposition.