NJ Doula Medicaid Bill: What You Need to Know

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There's been lots of buzz around the newly introduced NJ Doula Medicaid bill, so we wanted to collect all the information we know so far and share it with you. 

The name: MEDICAID COVERAGE FOR DOULA CARE  

https://legiscan.com/NJ/bill/A1662/2018

Number: Assembly Bill 1662, NJ

Introduced: January 9, 2018

Introduced by (Sponsored by) Representative: Eliana Marin, Rep 29th District

"This bill provides for the expansion of the State Medicaid program to include coverage for doula care.  A doula is a trained professional who provides physical, emotional, and educational support, but not medical care, to mothers before, during, and after childbirth.  Research has demonstrated that support from a doula is associated with lower caesarian section rates, fewer obstetric interventions, fewer complications, decreased use of pain medication, shorter labor hours, and higher scores on the APGAR test (which indicates how well the baby is doing outside the womb)."

According to NJ Spotlight 

"Maternal mortality is also a priority for Democrats in the state Senate, including Sen. Joe Vitale, (D-Middlesex), the longtime health committee chairman, who has pledged to hold hearings on the issue and the racial disparities in death rates, which are significant."

"Vitale joined Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) in December to introduce legislation to create a panel of experts, armed with subpoena power, which would go beyond the existing review process. A companion version has been sponsored by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden), Assemblyman Rag Mukherji (D-Hudson), and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), who has led other efforts to improve maternity care.

Other supporters of maternal health were present at a recent East Orange WIC Black History Month Event celebrating Breastfeeding, including New Jersey's First Lady Tammy Murphy and Acting Commissioner of the Department of Health Dr. Shereef Elnahal. 

What can you do to help? Write letters. 

The bill was just recently introduced so it has a way to go before it becomes law.

Find out more about how a bill becomes law in NJ http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/legislativepub/legprocess.asp

Write a letter to your assembly person, the folks who will sponsor the bill. Try to write it soon, like this March, before too much time passes. 

First find out your Legislative district & Assembly person here: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/districts/districtnumbers.asp

Consider writing an actual paper letter with information about the benefits of doulas or letter written from the heart based on your perspective or experience and passion. It is important we help push it through by showing support for the bill. It is also important for your former clients to write letters, so that the general public is also represented. Consider hosting a letter writing party with some of your birthworker colleagues.

It would be a really wonderful start if this bill can get passed. Providing a medicaid waiver for doula services to medicaid enrolled parents would be a great start to increasing equity and access in maternal health care. Please share with us what steps you are taking so others get inspired and can possibly reach out to you. 

Other resources:

Choices in Childbirth: Read issue brief and take a look at CIC's other resources to learn more about the issue. http://choicesinchildbirth.org/our-work/advocacy-policy/doulacoverage/

CIC TOOLKIT:

Overdue: Medicaid and Private Insurance Coverage of Doula Care
Executive Summary (including our Key Recommendations)
Infographic, Overdue: Medicaid and Private Insurance of Doula Care
Press Release for Overdue: Medicaid & Private Insurance Coverage of Doula Care
Sample tweets and Facebook posts
Childbirth Connections’s Cochrane Review, “Continuous support for women during childbirth”