The New York State Health Department announced the launch of a pilot expansion of the state’s Medicaid program to cover doula services in Brooklyn. 

The doula pilot, scheduled to launch on March 1, is a part of the state’s multi-pronged initiative to target maternal mortality and reduce racial disparities in health outcomes.

Brooklyn has one of the state’s highest number of Medicaid births, as well as maternal and infant mortality rates. The use of a doula, a non-medical birth coach who assists a woman before, during or after childbirth, has been proven to increase positive health outcomes, including reducing birth complications for the mother and the baby, said NYS Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker.

“Research shows that doulas can help women have a more positive pregnancy experience and better health outcomes for themselves and their babies,” said Zucker. “This pilot makes it possible for more women to have access to doula services during and after their pregnancies, which will hopefully reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.”

The Medicaid program will reimburse participating doulas for their services during labor and delivery, and will cover up to three prenatal visits and up to four postpartum visits. To participate in the pilot, a doula must sign an attestation form provided by the DOH, affirming that the doula training program they have completed meets a set of core competencies, including instruction in cultural competency.

“Doulas, midwives and alternative health practitioners have long been a part of maternal and family health in communities of color,” said Assemblymember Tremaine Wright. “Capturing these important practitioners in Medicaid repayment is a major recognition and will go a long way to increase healthy births.”

This month, the health department will begin the training, outreach and education efforts to prepare for the pilot’s launch.

For more information about the Medicaid doula pilot, visit: www.health.ny.gov/doulapilot.

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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