In case you didn't know the only licensed, accredited birth center in Utah closed this year. There are still unlicensed, single-room birth centers in existence, offering families another out-of-hospital option for their births. Unfortunately, many insurance companies and Medicare do not offer reimbursement to unlicensed birth centers. Many women/families cannot financially afford to give birth in a place that their insurance won't pay for, so home births and unlicensed birth centers are out of the question for those families. Mothers relying on Medicare also no longer have any out-of-hospital choices available for their births either. What a loss for the families of Utah.
If we want to continue to improve access to midwives we need to see insurance companies policies change so that they will pay for out-of-hospital births, no matter where the location. We also need the federal government to change Medicare's policies about reimbursing out-of-hospital providers (this would likely lead to changes among private insurers).
Getting insurers to pay for out-of-hospital birth is only part of the battle. We have to continue to make sure that the laws protect midwives rights to practice. In some cases we may need to work to change laws that restrict those eliminate choices for women.
I hope the members of Utah Friends of Midwives are ready to continue the fight to maintain and improve maternity care in our state!!
For more information about the next battle that women and midwives may be facing please read the following blog post from one of our members regarding potential changes in the birth center regulations: