Senate passes Quezada legislation requiring insurance, Medicaid coverage of doula services

 

STATE HOUSE — The Senate today passed legislation introduced by Sen. Ana B. Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence) that would make doula services eligible for reimbursement through private insurance and Medicaid programs.

The bill (2021-S 0484) would provide for medical assistance health care for expectant mothers and would establish medical assistance coverage and reimbursement rates for perinatal doula services. The purpose of the bill is to achieve healthier outcomes for women and babies, particularly for black women, who experience significantly higher rates of death or injury during childbirth than white women do.

“There is no question that this bill will save lives and be good for women of color in Rhode Island,” said Senator Quezada, “but it also makes strong economic sense. Women who use doulas often require fewer expensive medical interventions during childbirth, which will save them, the hospitals and the insurance companies money and make the childbirth process much easier for all involved.”

Doulas are trained professionals who provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support to women during pregnancy, childbirth and the first few postpartum weeks. They assist in making women as comfortable as possible during birth, providing help with breathing techniques, massage and advice, and can help advocate for the woman during the birth. Births assisted by doulas have significantly lower rates of cesarean section, with one study showing a 39 percent reduction.

“Studies have shown that doulas greatly improve health outcomes for women and babies during pregnancy and childbirth,” said Senator Quezada. “Their assistance can prevent complications and reduce the cesarean and preterm rates. Ultimately, they are a win-win because they make childbirth safer while saving health care dollars.”

Under the bill, services from a trained, qualified doula would be eligible for coverage through private insurance and Medicaid, including the state medical assistance program, for up to $1,500 per pregnancy. The bill, which would take effect July 1, 2022, would also set industry standards and create a statewide registry of doulas to assist women in connecting with qualified professionals, while simultaneously helping to assure that doulas are fairly compensated for their work.

The measure now moves to the House of Representatives, where similar legislation (2021-H 5929) has been introduced by Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (D-Dist. 5, Providence).

 

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