Dolly Browder can't emphasize enough the importance of the Midwives and Mothers in Action (MAMA) Campaign. The national initiative is currently pushing for federal recognition for Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) in Medicaid, a change that could revolutionize affordable maternity care.
"The campaign goal is to gain federal recognition for Certified Professional Midwives basically so that women and families have increased access to quality maternity care," says Browder, one of Montana's 20 to 25 active CPMs. "It's affordable, it's in the care and setting of their choice, and it really should save the government a lot of money."
MAMA hits Missoula Thursday afternoon when Browder and other midwives lead a march over the Higgins Avenue bridge and present a petition to Sen. Max Baucus' Front Street office. For Browder, MAMA aims to give parents a choice in pregnancy.
"Right now in the state of Montana, if you are low-income and qualify for Medicaid, your birth has to be in a hospital if you want to get it paid for," Browder says.
Home births with a midwife account for only one percent of the 4.3 million births that take place nationally each year, but the savings are staggering. An average home birth ranges between $3,000 and $4,000, according to the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA). In-hospital births can cost up to $10,000.
"I think it's a pretty uphill battle to get recognition because we just don't have the clout," says Susan Moray, a licensed midwife and press officer for MANA.
Moray practices midwifery in Oregon, one of only 11 states where midwives can get reimbursement from private insurers or Medicaid. She says by making recognition a federal issue, MAMA can eliminate state-specific problems with one blow. For low-income families especially, a safe and affordable alternative could make birth what Browder says it should be: part of the daily process.
"Half of the parents I work with as a midwife do not have health insurance," Browder says. "That's why I really support this whole health reform, because I think everyone should have that ability."