Here at the Big Push for Midwives, we highlight the fundamental importance of state licensing laws. While we all share in the excitement of the news that CPMs and the CPM credential are making headway in the U.S. Congress and in the halls of government in Washington, D.C., the excitement is more than a little tempered by the reality that unless and until CPMs are licensed in a particular state, no federal legislation will take effect in that state.
To wit, as birth centers are learning, state Medicaid plans will NOT cover freestanding birth center services unless the birth center holds a state license, and state Medicaid plans will NOT cover professional services of midwives in birth centers unless the midwives are licensed.
The same will inevitably be true with education loan repayment programs and other federal initiatives. The National Health Service Corps is simply not going to place a CPM in a maternity care shortage area of a state where CPMs are not licensed, and CPMs who are not licensed by their state cannot be eligible for Medicaid reimbursement.
Likewise, in January 2014, when the provider non-discrimination provision of the health care reform law went into effect — it is requiring all health insurance companies and managed care plans to include all categories of state-licensed health professionals in their networks — CPMs will NOT qualify for inclusion with other health professionals unless they are licensed.
Under the U.S. Constitution, only state legislatures—not the federal government—can license health care providers. The Constitution reserves this power strictly to the states. Ultimately, it is state licensure that will ensure that all women have access to CPMs, making them easier to find by legally qualifying them to practice under state agency standards, and making them more affordable by covering their services under private insurance and Medicaid.
So, now is the time for us to re-double our "in-state" efforts. Walking the halls in state legislatures is the most important thing that can be done — right now — to advance midwifery in the United States.
Here at the Big Push for Midwives Campaign nerve center, we are inspired by all of the incredible efforts performed daily by the hard-working, dedicated, unsung, and amazing PushState advocates. What each of you are doing for mothers and babies (and their babies and their babies) every day, against nearly insurmountable odds, in so many states across this great country. But it is important to note: we see you, we honor you for all that you are doing, and we are here from sea to shining sea to support you in any and every way that we can.
Shannon Earle holds her new baby Kiera Breen Earle, moments after she was born at their home. (Amanda Steen / NPR)
PushNews from The Big Push for Midwives Campaign
CONTACT: Katherine Prown, (414) 550-8025, [email protected]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 26, 2012
CDC Finds Continued Increase in Home Births - Report Highlights Disparities in Access for Women of Color
WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 26, 2012)—A report released by the CDC today found a 29 percent increase in home births from 2004 to 2009. The rate of home births among non-Hispanic white women underwent a dramatic increase, while the rate for women of color decreased or remained stagnant, a trend that reflects racial and ethnic disparities in other areas of maternity care throughout the U.S.
"Unfortunately, the women who could most benefit from out-of-hospital midwifery care are those who are least likely to have access to Certified Professional Midwives with the specialized training needed to provide it," said Susan Jenkins, Legal Counsel for The Big Push for Midwives Campaign. "The CDC report and other research shows that babies born to women cared for by Certified Professional Midwives are far less likely to be preterm or low birth weight, two of the primary contributing factors not only to infant mortality, but to racial and ethnic disparities in birth outcomes."
Barriers to out-of-hospital maternity care include laws in 23 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico that prohibit Certified Professional Midwives from practicing, as well as laws or policies in all but 11 of the remaining states that deny Medicaid coverage for home births managed by Certified Professional Midwives.
"As we work to address disparities by increasing the cultural proficiency of midwives practicing in out-of-hospital settings and diversifying the midwifery work force, we also need to change laws nationwide so that all women have access to out-of-hospital maternity care with Certified Professional Midwives," said Jenkins. The Big Push for Midwives Campaign represents tens of thousands of grassroots advocates in the U.S. who support expanding access to Certified Professional Midwives and out-of-hospital maternity care. The mission of The Big Push for Midwives is to educate state and national policymakers and the general public about the reduced costs and improved outcomes associated with out-of-hospital maternity care and to advocate for expanding access to the services of Certified Professional Midwives, who are specially trained to provide it.