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This week the House of Representatives passed House File 2547, a State Government bill to create the licensure of midwifery as a licensed health-related profession. The bill received bipartisan support with a final vote of 93-2. If enacted, the bill would expand the access women in Iowa have to maternal care options and provide expanded options for how and where a birth takes place. Iowa, along with the rest of the country, has seen rising maternal mortality rates and declining access to obstetric services the last 20 years. House File 2547 will provide expanded options for individuals who want to become licensed in midwifery and mothers who wish to receive maternal care from a midwife.

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The bill creates the Board of Midwifery which would consist of seven members, four members who are professional midwives eligible for licensure, one member who is a licensed OB-GYN and experienced professionally consulting with midwives, one member would be a nurse midwife, and a member representing the general public who is not a licensed midwife or health care provider who has received midwifery services. This newly formed licensure board would adopt administrative rules to establish the rules and requirements for licensure. Additionally, the board would define professional and unprofessional conduct, permit licensees to obtain the appropriate and relevant screening and testing for midwife clients, and permit the administration of midwife specific medicine for child birth.

In addition to the creation of the midwife licenses and the licensure board, the bill would waive liability for healthcare providers accepting a transfer client from a midwife from any outcomes arising from the actions of the midwife. Frequently mothers have been turned away from health care providers because they received care from a midwife. This bill would provide more sunlight into the use of midwifery and providing liability protection for hospitals who take on patients who experienced unexpected difficulties while under the care of the midwife. Additionally, the bill would prohibit health and accident insurance providers from denying coverage of services provided by licensed midwives or from charging a higher copayment, deductible, or coinsurance than similar benefits of the plan.

With more maternity wards closing across Iowa, increases in maternal mortality rates, and mothers forced to find alternatives to hospital deliveries due to the COVID-19 pandemic it is crucial that the legislature look for alternatives to expand both availability to maternal care and variety in options. Passing House File 2547 is a step in that direction. The bill has been received by the Senate and referred to the Senate State Government Committee for further consideration.

Author: Jon Dunwell

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