ACTION: Please contact the members and the chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee by no later than Friday, February 15 and ask them to include budget proviso language in the Senate budget to lower the midwifery licensing fee to $100 and provide sufficient funding to operate the midwifery program at the Department of Health. Contact members and the chair of the House Appropriations Committee by no later than Friday, February 22 and ask them to include budget proviso language in the House budget to lower the midwifery licensing fee to $100 and provide sufficient funding to operate the midwifery program at the Department of Health.
This is VERY important. And you can do it in five minutes or less.
Go HERE for more information. Now. PLEASE.
Here is what I included in my emails:
SUBJECT: Lower Midwifery Licensing Fees for Better, More Affordable Health Care for Pregnant Women in Washington
MESSAGE: Given the priority that the Governor and the legislature are placing on healthcare cost containment and improved health outcomes for the citizens of Washington State, they should help to ensure the long-term viability of licensed midwifery. A cost/benefit study recently released by the DOH found that the services provided by licensed midwives result in proven cost offsets to the healthcare system—nearly half a million dollars biennially to Medicaid alone and more than $2.7 million if private insurance is included in the analysis. These cost offsets result from lower Medicaid reimbursement claims when women give birth in non-hospital settings such as free-standing birth centers and at home. The study also found, but did not quantify, other benefits such as lower c-section rates, a lower incidence of low birth weight babies due to intensive prenatal care, and higher breastfeeding rates, all of which contribute to long-term health of mothers and babies.
A smart way to do business, therefore, is to ensure that more women have the option of choosing to give birth at home or in free-standing birth centers. With the annual licensing fee at $450 and the possibility of an increase to over $3000, we are losing licensed midwives rather than gaining in numbers (over 25% have been lost in the last few years). By lowering the annual midwifery licensing fee to $100, the legislature would be removing a significant barrier to practice, allowing more midwives to enter and remain in their chosen profession. This would lead to even more significant cost offsets to the State in the future.
As a midwifery student, I have a substantial reason to be very interested in making sure midwifery remains viable in this state. It would be unfortunate if I had to leave to practice elsewhere, after having spent a lot of money to get a good education in this state. This is the fate of approximately three-quarters of the graduates of our program at Seattle Midwifery School. By graduation, students are under the burden of student loans and must still face business start-up costs and insurance costs; this is a business in which a new practitioner can expect not to make $20,000 until her third year in practice, and the licensing fee is tipping the balance for many new graduates. Midwifery saves this state money, and the graduates that go elsewhere because they cannot afford to practice here could be saving this state even more money. It would simply be the smart move to facilitate their remaining here.
Thank you for your time,
[Niki], Student Midwife