Friday, July 17, 2009

Important News from the MAMA Campaign

The MAMA Campaign had a very significant meeting with the Centers for Medicaid Services on Wednesday, July 15, 2009.

How We Secured this Important Meeting:

Due to the connections that Health Policy Source has with the Centers for Medicaid Services (CMS), the MAMA Campaign secured a meeting with CMS this week to present information about Certified Professional Midwives, about the state of maternity care in the U.S., about our request to have CPMs included in Medicaid on the federal level, about how including CPMs will help to improve quality and outcomes and reduce costs to Medicaid. It is very difficult to get meetings with the CMS and this was a significant accomplishment for the campaign.

What is the Significance of this Meeting to our Campaign Strategy:

As we increase our support on the Hill and increase our chances of getting our amendment into the health care bills, legislators will director questions to the CMS and ask CMS to weigh in. If CMS was not briefed on Certified Professional Midwives and the contributions we offer to the system and could not answer these questions, our amendment would have very little chance of sticking in the bills.

Who Attended the Meeting:

Six of the top administrators at CMS attended the hour-long meeting, including the right hand person for the new Director of CMS. The campaign's delegation was Mary Lawlor, Jo Anne Myers-Ciecko and Carol Sakala from Childbirth Connection.

We were particularly grateful for the time and attention that Carol gave to this meeting. Her participation created an impressive and important partnership opportunity with our campaign to further the efforts of Childbirth Connection to bring deeply needed attention to the importance of addressing quality and cost, in addition to access issues, in maternity care reform in order for health care reform to be successful. Their emphasis on improving quality makes such a strong argument and creates a powerful and effective context for the inclusion of CPMs in Medicaid. Carol spoke strongly to the point that mandating a strong set of quality improvement measures for maternity care, as Childbirth Connection is advocating for with Medicaid, combined with mandatory Medicaid reimbursement for CPMs and birth centers, will provide the core of an effective approach to improving quality in maternity care in the decades to come.

The Reception We Received:

The CMS officials were receptive to our presentation, asked for clarifications, made no objections: it was a very positive meeting. Questions were asked about the differences among the credentials. They received information about the CPM credential favorably. We were able to present the numbers of CPMs, the geographical distribution and the growing nature of the profession in a way that speaks well about how far we have come. One official said that our description of the plight of so many women around the country in regard to basic lack of access and the poor quality of maternity care is a powerful argument for expanding Medicaid reimbursement to CPMs and birth centers.