Vt. insurers must cover home births

By Lisa Rathke
Associated Press / May 19, 2011

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MONTPELIER — As a rural state with one of the higher rates of home births, Vermont will soon require private health insurers to cover the services of midwives who attend them, joining a handful of states with similar mandates.

Governor Peter Shumlin signed the bill into law yesterday, surrounded by mothers and their babies born at home. He said that access to midwifery care and home birth should not be restricted to those who can afford to pay for it out of pocket.

“This law will ensure that all expectant mothers get the coverage and care they want and deserve,’’ he said.

New York, New Hampshire, and New Mexico have similar laws, according to the The Big Push For Midwives, a national campaign seeking to make midwives legal in all 50 states and to get Medicaid reimbursement for their services nationwide.

Supporters say the change will save money, with home births costing about a third of the average hospital birth.

The Vermont Medical Society and some insurance companies opposed the bill, based on research saying home births are not as safe as hospital births and that the change could lead to higher costs if a mother must be transferred to a hospital because of problems during birth.

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