New York State is set to address the maternal health crisis by expanding access to doula care for expecting parents under Medicaid effective immediately.

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Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation aimed to tackle the alarming rates of infant and maternal mortality in the state. This groundbreaking measure will provide comprehensive support to women and their partners, with a particular focus on improving outcomes for communities that face disparities in maternal healthcare.

Expanding Doula Care Access in New York

Under the new legislation, the New York State Health Department will create a Community Doula Directory. This online resource will help expecting parents connect with doulas in their local communities and provide information about the services covered by Medicaid. Currently, doula services are mainly accessible through private payments, with costs ranging from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. Starting today, January 1,  2024, Medicaid will reimburse doulas for their services, providing increased access to this vital form of care.

Addressing Disparities in Maternal Health in New York

The legislation acknowledges the significant disparities in maternal healthcare outcomes, with Black mothers being five times more likely to die during childbirth compared to their white counterparts. Senator Samra Brouk, the bill's primary sponsor, emphasizes that 78% of these deaths in New York are preventable. The expanded access to doula care aims to address these disparities by offering tailored support to marginalized communities and dismantling barriers to equitable healthcare access.

Benefits of Doula Care in New York

Research shows that having a doula present during childbirth can reduce the overall cesarean rate by 50% and shorten the length of labor by 25%. Doulas act as advocates, providing personalized care and helping navigate the healthcare system. Their expertise and knowledge can help bridge the communication gap between medical professionals and the mother, ensuring their choices and preferences are respected.

As the first mom and grandma to serve as Governor of New York, I’m committed to doing everything in my power to tackle the disturbing rise in infant mortality. Governor Kathy Hochul

Medicaid Coverage for Doula Services in New York

With the signing of this legislation, Medicaid will cover doula services for expecting parents in New York State. The reimbursement rates will be $1,325 for the Upstate region and $1,500 for New York City (across the five boroughs). This financial support will relieve the financial burden on families and make doula care more accessible to a wider range of individuals, promoting positive birth experiences and better outcomes.

Building Supportive Communities

The Community Doula Directory and Medicaid reimbursement for doula services are just the beginning of a broader effort to create a supportive and inclusive environment for those giving birth.

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