Gena Bigler: Recognizing Kentucky midwives, using Medicaid to pay for births makes sense


f there is a way to save hundreds of millions of dollars on healthcare costs, shouldn’t we explore it? By licensing Certified Professional Midwives and allowing Medicaid to pay them to care for healthy low risk mothers, hundreds of millions of tax dollars could be saved while expanding mothers’ birth options.

Midwifery care is common across the globe. Many nations that embrace midwives as primary caregivers for low risk pregnancies have much better maternal and infant outcomes than our own.

Though we as a country spend more than any other developed nation on healthcare, we rank surprisingly low on infant outcomes. Norway, Ireland, Sweden, Cuba and Guam all have better outcomes (more healthy live births) than here in the U.S. All the countries that enjoy better maternal and infant mortality rates than the U.S. have both universal health care and midwives attending the majority of births. In the U.S., we have a cesarean section rate of roughly 33 percent while hospital-based Certified Nurse Midwives have a much lower 10 percent rate. Because they are not nationally recognized, there are no comparable records
for CPMs.