Last week, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law a bill requiring that any health insurance and health benefit plans that provide maternity benefits (including Medicaid and public health care assistance plans) must provide coverage for midwifery services in hospitals, other health care facilities, and at home.
As I read the legislation, it includes coverage for both certified professional midwives and certified nurse-midwives.
The Governor remarked, “Access to midwifery care and home birth should not be limited only to those who can afford those services out of pocket. This law will ensure that all expectant mothers get the coverage and care they want and deserve.”
The legislation establishes a maternal mortality review board made up of an obstetrician, maternal-fetal medicine specialist, neonatologist, CNM, CPM, and other relevant specialists, along with a member of the public. This board will review maternal deaths in Vermont for factors associated with the deaths, and will make recommendations for systemic changes and legislation to address those factors.
Although it seems to have received less media attention, the law also includes a provision to allow transgender individuals to acquire new birth certificates reflecting their gender rather than the one assigned at birth. This will require a doctor’s note submitted to a court “stating that the individual has undergone surgical, hormonal, or other treatment appropriate for that individual for the purpose of gender transition.”
This reportedly makes Vermont the only state with a law that explicitly specifies that surgery is not required in order to obtain a new birth certificate. The law also provides that the original birth certificates will not be available for public inspection in order to protect individual privacy.