Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Day President Obama Signed the Health Care Bill

Published in the SLO Tribune on Friday March 26, 2010

Hidden in the thousands of pages of the Health Care Bill that President Obama signed into law were some items very few people were aware of that will effect women all across the country. They target issues concerning maternity care and they have the power to change our beliefs about where, how and with whom women should be giving birth in our country.

Did you know forty-two % of all births in the U.S. are paid for through Medicaid reimbursement? Now women will have a choice of how they use that money. They can continue to choose to birth in a hospital with a doctor but they can also choose to have a Certified Nurse Midwife attend them in a hospital, or they could attend them at an out of hospital birth center. Another option is to have a Certified Professional Midwife attend them at an out of hospital birth center. This doesn’t just represent more freedom for women to choose the birth the want it also represents a huge cost savings to the Medicaid budget. The average hospital birth with a doctor attending costs approximately $20,000. It skyrockets to $60,000 for a cesarean section birth. With our national cesarean section rate climbing every day this is a serious chunk of change. On the other hand the average cost for a birth center birth is approximately ¼ of that or $5000. Not all women should be birthing in birth centers with midwives but if just 5% of women choose this option it will mean millions of dollars a year saved.

Did you know until today they was no widespread standardized assessment of the maternity care being offered in this country? Statistics relating to the benefits and risks of current practices in use today, such as, induction of labor, medication to speed labor, or drugs for pain relief were not being kept in a national database. Over time this data base will yield important information for women and their care providers. Helping them base their care on informed choices.

Did you know women were being denied health care coverage because they had given birth by cesarean section? This was being labeled a pre-existing condition which ruled them out of further care. On top of that the current stance of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists about vaginal birth after cesarean section makes it impossible for many women in the U.S. to do anything except have a repeat cesarean section for all future births. Until today women were faced with the choice of letting their insurance company limit the size of their family or pay about $60,000 per child.

Did you know until today your insurance company could deny you care simply because you were pregnant? Stopping this practice has the potential of effecting millions of women and babies. Guaranteeing access to quality maternity care impacts not just this generation but the next as well.

Thank you to Representative Capps for working to pass this important legislation for women and babies. When asked about this piece of the bill she said, "I know that bringing a new life into the world can be the most profound moment in a woman’s life. And I am proud that this new legislation will afford women more choices regarding the setting in which this momentous occasion can occur. One of the many important provisions in the new health reform legislation is the increased access to care in a variety of settings, including for women who choose to obtain prenatal care and deliver their babies in freestanding birth centers. I was proud to support this provision that assures these centers Medicaid reimbursement for providing this important service in promoting women’s health."

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