However, the health reform law, or ACA for Affordable Care Act, does MUCH more to expand access to quality and affordable pregnancy and maternity care.
What are some of the changes because of health reform? And how will they benefit Latinas?
- Starting in 2014, individual and small group (employers with 100 employees or less) health insurance plans must cover “maternity and newborn care.” This is huge news as maternity care is not only one of the most common forms of health care for Latinas of reproductive age, but it is also incredibly expensive and not typically covered in health insurance plans. This historic lack of coverage for maternity was an injustice for all women, including Latinas.
- Medicaid must now reimburse for services offered at free-standing birth centers. We know Medicaid is a lifeline for Latinas. And we know increasing the number of birthing options available to Latinas is good for moms, for babies and for communities.
- Medicare has also started reimbursing Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) at the same rate as physicians for delivering the same health care services. The hope is that Medicaid and private health insurance will follow suit. This is also great news for Latinas as midwifery holds great potential to improve improve Latinas’ access to maternity care and birthing experiences.
- In September 2011, new private health insurance plans had to begin allowing women to directly seek obstetrical and gynecological care, without referrals or waiting for authorizations from insurance companies. This too will help Latinas’ who face barriers and jump through many hoops in getting the care they seek.
- In June 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made $99 million available in competitive grants to help states improve “Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Visitation Programs.” These programs seek to support families typically marginalized excluded from health systems, including Latinas and their families.
The health reform law recognized that the health care system was failing women, including Latinas seeking to create strong, healthy families. By covering maternity care and supporting a wider range of birthing options, the ACA stands poised to positively impact the reproductive health and justices of U.S. Latinas.
Stay tuned later today and throughout March for 20 Days of ACA.