Follow Up: Why We Must Stop NYC's Doula Certification Bills

Follow Up: Why We Must Stop NYC's Doula Certification Bills

In 2019, we published a letter in direct opposition to the New York state bills attempting to regulate doulas, and in full support of autonomy for doulas in their practices. Our position on these matters has not changed. However our support of doulas and their work has been tested and we have adapted our response to meet the growing demands imposed on them. Over the last year and a half, we have worked with a number of state-based health departments and related entities to provide the necessary documentation for Doula Trainings International to be added to the list of approved trainings, so that doulas can serve Medicaid clients. To be paid for their work, doulas are asked to become either credentialed or registered with states.These are not processes we are in support of or wish to devote our limited resources to, however ultimately we must do what is best for birthing folks: expanding access to doula care is what we're about. We do not want our doulas to be strong-armed into taking an additional training they feel is unnecessary.

Doula Trainings International is currently an approved training in the states of Maryland, Michigan and Nevada (birth), and is also approved in the District of Columbia. The state of California does not require doula training from any particular organization, and the state of New York provides a couple of pathways which are inclusive of doulas who have trained through us.

The issues doulas who wish to serve Medicaid clients, or who already do, are unfortunately numerous. Let's highlight a couple of the most severe:

  1. In many states, the reimbursement rate is far below market rate. For instance, in the state of Virginia, doulas are reimbursed $859 for eight prenatal and postpartum visits and presence at labor/delivery. Factoring 12 hours of labor support plus 8 hours minimum of additional visits, while $53/hour might seem like a fair wage, it does not factor in the tremendous on-call element of our birth doula role, or speak to the reasons birth doulas work on a flat rate model.
  2. Doulas spend countless additional hours supporting their clients and running their businesses, and now states are adding the hours it takes to figure out billing processes, filing bills correctly, etc. just to get paid weeks or months after work has already been completed, if there were no issues with the often confusing bureaucracy of insurance.
  3. The state of Virginia has asked Doula Trainings International to pay fees in order to be considered for their credentialing process. Quite frankly, these are funds we do not have. And if we did, we would prefer to devote them to our scholarship program.

The bottom line is that we will continue supporting our doulas with what they need in the best ways we can. We will communicate with and ask questions of the departments responsible for making these decisions. We will give input whenever key stakeholder meeting invitations are extended, and we will keep tabs on the incredible resource, Doula Medicaid Project offered by the National Health Law Program, on behalf of our doulas. We are currently in communication with the state of Colorado for the purpose of being added as an approved training.

 

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