by Judy Norsigian
Our Bodies Ourselves executive director
Last year, the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) filed a petition with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to intervene in a hearing regarding CMS’ disallowance of Medicaid payment for a birth center.
According to AABC:
The federal Medicaid law lists the types of providers and services that are eligible for payment. Hospitals, clinics, nurse-midwives are listed, but birth centers are not. Until recently, some states paid birth center charges above and beyond the midwife’s professional fee, but did so based upon an interpretation of the Medicaid law.
However, as a result of the judge’s recent ruling:
CMS top officials … have a new interpretation, which leaves out birth centers, and no longer accept the former interpretation. This means that if the birth center is to get paid for the facility, the birth center must to be added to the Act as a distinct category of provider, like hospitals or clinics. And, the ONLY WAY this can be done is by passing a bill through Congress to amend the Medicaid law.
Birth centers have an outstanding record of providing safe, women-centered births and all women should have access to them, regardless of their income status. In addition, the ruling could easily lead to denial of other insurance payments to birthing centers, as other payers often follow the lead of CMS.
Our Bodies Ourselves believes that CMS must be directed to cover birthing centers, and we ask our supporters to take the following steps:
- Sign this petition in support of Medicaid funding to birth centers. (And tell your friends and colleagues to do so as well!) We need to collect 10,000 signatures in the next week or so.
- Contact your senators and representative to support a new bill to be introduced by Rep. Susan Davis (D- CA). This bill will include birth centers as eligible providers for Medicaid payment.
The AABC has additional background information on the issue, as well as a letter for physicians to sign. You can keep up with the progress of the campaign on the AABC’s Facebook page.