Pennsylvania lawmakers are working to make doulas covered by health insurance

Pennsylvania lawmakers are working to make doulas covered by health insurance

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Kaci Wood had several goals when she found out she was pregnant, including giving birth without pain medication and breastfeeding.

“I knew that doulas help both before and after birth,” Wood said.

Doulas, as Amy Wilt, LPN, explains, support people “during pregnancy by being more emotional and physical.

Wilt is a certified doula and owner of Doulas of Dauphin County, an agency that provides doulas to people who are looking for them.

“People are starting to get educated about what we do, how we can help and the benefits of a doula,” Wilt said.

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Several studies show that having a doula reduces the need for pain medication and C-sections, lowers health care costs, and can improve overall outcomes for mothers and their babies.

“The problem with nurses is, as great as they are, they actually only deal with about 25% of the patients, so 75% of the time, the laborer is alone, and that’s significant,” Wilt said.

Wilt was by Wood’s side during the birth of both children.

“You can tell her what’s going on with your body, and she can tell you what to do. She suggests different positions to promote my labor,” Wood said. not every doula does this. He is very special to me and my family. “

When a woman gives birth, a doula can be her voice, helping to communicate her wishes to medical professionals.

“He was able to advocate for me to take the fetal heart monitor off and get up and move and get the labor going,” Wood said. “One thing I really wanted was the cord delay and the hospital bath because {newborn babies} have certain things that protect them, and she made sure those things happened.”

Doula services, which can cost between $800 and $1,500, are not covered by insurance.

“I’m sure some first-time moms who don’t have the financial means to pay for a doula just don’t even look into it because they know it’s going to burden them financially,” Wood said.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Morgan Cephas (D-Philadelphia) is working to change that.

“House Bill 1175 requires Medicaid to reimburse doula care, and it really focuses on the issue of maternal mortality. Maternal mortality in the state of Pennsylvania increased by 21%, and that was pre-pandemic,” Cephas said.

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Rep. Cephas says the Wolf administration was able to apply for a waiver to help pay for doulas through Medicaid.

“They were able to request a waiver from the federal government to add it to their Medicaid portfolio, so that’s something they’re moving forward with, and already doing that, we don’t necessarily need legislation to move. Next, private insurance has to do its part. Often Medicaid goes first and then , if studies have shown that it reduces health risks, reduces costs, private insurance companies tend to follow,” Rep. Cephas said.

“If enough people complain that they want coverage, hopefully they’ll listen,” Wilt said.

Wood hopes that other mothers will have the opportunity to experience the same kind of support that she had during childbirth.

“It was one of the best things I ever did for myself. Amy is just very important because she influenced my life. She brought my children into this world and I’m very proud of that,” Wood said.

Rep. Cephas says they are drafting a bill to cover doulas with private insurance.

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