by Lorrie Kline Kaplan, ACNM Chief Executive Officer
After several months of planning and much hard work, ACNM together with our friends at the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) held a briefing yesterday on Capitol Hill –and it was nothing short of a success!
It was our privilege to share the good news and policy implications of the landmark, large-scale study published last week in ACNM’s Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, titled “Outcomes of Care in Birth Centers: Demonstration of a Durable Model,” with an audience of Congressional staffers, maternal and child health organizations, and proud midwives. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), the leading champion for maternity care in the House of Representatives (and a major supporter of midwifery), was our sponsor for the briefing. Debbie Jessup, CNM, PhD, a key member of her legislative staff, graciously kicked-off the briefing, while I served as moderator.
Susan Stapleton, CNM, DNP, the primary author of the article, presented a summary of the study’s findings, which are nothing short of amazing. One of the most impressive is:
Eighty-four percent of the women who planned to deliver at a birth center were able to do so and 93% of the women had a normal vaginal birth.
While the birth center study was not designed as a cost study, the fiscal implication for these figures is staggering:
If only 10% of the 4 million annual births in the United States occurred in birth centers, it would translate to a savings of $1 billion per year in facility fees alone!
This study emphasizes a truth that the ACNM community has known for a long time: that midwife-led care is a strong model for achieving excellent maternal and infant outcomes and reducing unnecessary and costly medical interventions. Midwife-led care reduces the direct and indirect health care costs of pregnancy and birth, while providing the supportive care that women and families need at this important time in their lives.
Recognizing and applying this simple truth is especially urgent in these times of increasing fiscal pressure. Jill Alliman, CNM, MS, legislative chair for AABC, underscored this reality in her remarks at the briefing. She outlined AABC’s top policy recommendations: the recognition of birth centers as medical homes, providing uniformed service members with access to birth centers, including birth centers and midwives as providers in all federal and state health programs, and funding birth centers in needy areas.
The focus of my own commentary was to identify policies that would improve maternity care in all communities and in all birth settings. Specifically, I highlighted some of ACNM’s top policy priorities for the113th Congress, namely that the United States establish a process for identifying—and addressing—maternity care professional shortage areas, ensure equitable reimbursement to midwives under Medicaid, remove incentives for unnecessary maternity care services, adopt maternity care quality measures, and extend equal primary care payments to midwives under Medicaid. (For more information on these recommendations, see ACNM’s 2013 Federal Policy Agenda.
Above all, Jill and I stressed that ACNM’s and AABC’s policy agendas would help to ensure all women have access to the high quality, cost-effective care provided by midwives. The National Birth Center Study II shows us once again that this is smart public policy that should resonate on both sides of the aisle.
We received an enthusiastic response from our audience and seized the opportunity to answer questions and engage in conversations with congressional staff and other stakeholders. We are excited by the relationships we forged and strengthened this week. Continuing to build our support in Congress and with state policymakers is critically important for midwives to realize their full potential in the United States. ACNM will continue to seize every opportunity to get our message out!
Many people helped make yesterday’s briefing an outstanding event to remember, but I want to specifically thank the hard working members of ACNM and AABC. It is your dedication to women and babies and your superior outcomes that we celebrated at the briefing. Every day, I am honored to represent you and this organization. Thank you for all you do!
Photos from the Congressional Briefing
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