Assembly approves requirement for doula insurance coverage

 

STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell and Sen. Ana B. Quezada (2021-H 5929A, 2021-S 0484A) to make doula services eligible for reimbursement through private insurance plans. The legislation, which was also included in the state budget bill, now heads to the governor.

Doulas are trained healthcare professionals who provide women with continuous physical, emotional and informational support during pregnancy, childbirth and throughout the post-partum year. Research shows they improve safety, comfort and outcomes during childbirth and reduce the likelihood of cesarean sections by 39 percent. 

Improving access and affordability of doula services will make them more available to all women, and would make them an especially impactful resource to improve outcomes for Black and Hispanic/Latinx women.

In Rhode Island, Black women are 83% more likely to experience a severe complication at birth compared to white women. Hispanic/Latinx women are 34% more likely to experience a severe complication at or after birth compared to white women. Nationally, black infants are more than twice as likely to die than white infants.

“It’s unacceptable that women of color and particularly Black women are dying at rates three to four times higher than white women. All women deserve a safe and healthy childbirth experience. Doulas are a proven solution, and improving women’s access to them would go a long way toward getting women, particularly women of color, and their babies off to a strong and safe start,” said Representative Ranglin-Vassell (D-Dist. 5, Providence). “We are very proud that Rhode Island is taking action today to ensure that Black women, women of color and indigenous women have the high-quality prenatal, maternal and postnatal care they need to stay healthy and give birth to strong babies who deserve a safe start at life.”

Said Senator Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence). “There is no question that this bill will save lives and be good for women of color in Rhode Island, but it also makes strong economic sense. Women who use doulas often require fewer expensive medical interventions during childbirth, which will save insurers’ money and make the childbirth process much easier for all involved.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine have endorsed greater use of doulas, saying “one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula.”  Doula services help improve outcomes for both mother and babies, decrease postpartum depression, increase the likelihood of a shorter labor, a spontaneous vaginal birth and overall positive birth experience while avoiding complications and preventable chronic conditions, among other benefits.

 

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