I can’t decide whether to pound my keyboard into oblivion with anger or to drown it in tears of frustration.  Today, a bad, bad, BAD bill (HB308) was brought up in the House Health Insurance Committee.  This bill is BAD for midwives, BAD for mothers and BAD for babies.  It is discriminatory against women, lower-income families (who are already discriminated against and under served) and small business owners.  Furthermore, it is an obvious ploy by the medical lobby to bar midwives from practicing. If that doesn’t make you mad and want to take action, consider the following:

This bill would require midwives to carry $1,000,000 in malpractice insurance.  Sounds great, right?  All health care providers have to carry malpractice insurance, right? NOPE!

*According to the Missouri Department of Insurance, “Missouri does not require physicians to carry medical malpractice insurance unless they are on staff at urban hospitals.  In that case, they must have $500,000 in coverage. (p. 45)”

*Malpractice insurance is only just becoming available to Certified Professional Midwives and is exorbitantly expensive (estimates are AT LEAST $18,00/year).  Many midwives would be unable to afford the rates and would have to stop practicing.

*The midwives who wanted to try to keep practicing would most certainly have to raise rates and severely limit their clientele.  Rate spikes limit the kind of clientele who can afford midwifery care, most likely cutting out low-income families entirely.  Other restrictions might involve situations such as VBAC.  Since many hospitals are still running VBAC bans, women might be forced to go it alone or drive hundreds of miles to a facility that offers that service.

Those are the practicalities of malpractice insurance, but here’s another thought to consider, from a Citizens for Midwifery blog post based on a Midwifery Today article by Judy Slome Cohain:

 Mandatory malpractice insurance does not enable a person to sue for malpractice. Any midwife or citizen can be sued at present–insurance or no insurance. Mandatory malpractice insurance can only do one thing: increase the profitability of lawsuits.

I made my obligatory calls to the legislators on the committee (see below for the list of whom to contact), politely but firmly requesting they oppose HB 308.  I jotted down a couple of notes so I would sound eloquent, but I kept stumbling because what I really wanted to say was, “This bill is dumb and if you support it, you’re dumb.”

It is just so damn frustrating to hear legislators say they “care” about mothers and babies, that they want “safety” measures and that this is “good public policy”. (By the way, there were NO consumers, the people this measure is supposed to “protect”, to speak in favor of the bill today.  ALL the supporters were medical providers and/or lobbyists.  ALL OF THEM.) Anyone with half a brain knows that this is simply not true.  Bills introduced by lawyers and physicians are NOT about safety of motherbaby, nor are they about continued access to legal midwifery.  They are about shutting down midwifery.  End of story.  If they truly cared about safety and motherbabies and wanted transparency in maternity care so we could see data on how well midwives do, they would support a different bill.  That’s right, there’s already a bill in the house that DOES everything they say they want to do.  Their lack of support for this bill, and the audacity of introducing their own horrible bill, is further proof that the real concern is the continuation of the medical monopoly over birthing women’s rights.

Please take a few minutes to contact the members of this committee and let them know that you oppose HB 308.  In-person visits are best, phone calls are next best and emails will work if it’s all you can do.  Thank you!

House Health Insurance Committee

Molendorp, Chris, Chair
Phone: 573-751-2175
E-Mail: Chris.Molendorp@house.mo.gov

Lichtenegger, Donna, Vice Chair
Phone: 573-751-6662
E-Mail: Donna.Lichtenegger@house.mo.gov

Burlison, Eric
(Rep Burlison is a huge supporter of ours – please thank him for looking out for midwives!)
Phone: 573-751-0136
E-Mail: Eric.Burlison@house.mo.gov

Gardner, Kimberly
Phone: 573-751-1400
E-Mail: Kimberly.Gardner@house.mo.gov

Guernsey, Casey
Phone: 573-751-4285
E-Mail: Casey.Guernsey@house.mo.gov

McNeil, Margo
Phone: 573-751-5365
E-Mail: Margo.McNeil@house.mo.gov

Morgan, Judy
Phone: 573-751-4485
E-Mail: Judy.Morgan@house.mo.gov

Neely, Jim
Phone: 573-751-0246
E-Mail: Jim.Neely@house.mo.gov

Phillips, Don
Phone: 573-751-3851
E-Mail: Don.Phillips@house.mo.gov

Schieber, Ronald
Phone: 573-751-3618
E-Mail: Ronald.Schieber@house.mo.gov

Schupp, Jill
Phone: 573-751-9762
E-Mail: Jill.Schupp@house.mo.gov