Friday, July 17, 2009

Nurses Stand with Obama; Are Midwives Next?

by Dawn Durain, CNM, ACNM Vice President

I was trying to find some news coverage on the Sonia Sotomayor hearings on Wednesday afternoon, when suddenly there was President Obama on the White House steps surrounded by women! This being an atypical sight, I quickly unmuted. As it turned out, the people accompanying the president were mostly nurses and members of the Congressional Nursing Caucus—nurses in the Rose Garden! Nurses were being praised by the president for their dedication, ability to convey complex information to patients, and skills in caring for women in labor and their nervous husbands—all of this from the personal experiences of President Obama no less.

The occasion of the speech was, of course, to mark a significant step by Congress toward health care reform. I encourage you to read the Senate and House legislation and the president’s speech for yourself. I find the recognition of the work of nurses refreshing—more refreshing than the recent spate of TV shows featuring nurses for sure! I found myself hoping for the impossible though. Would the president mention nurse-midwives when he spoke of his experiences when his daughters were born? He didn’t. Would he mention the importance of nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives (CNMs), and certified midwives (CMs) as primary care providers when he spoke of the need for coordinated health care? He didn’t do that either. But, the legislation he referenced does, thanks to the hard work of our ACNM staff and midwives around the country who are talking and talking and talking to their representatives in Congress. Wednesday felt like a giant step forward. And maybe next time the White House will invite a midwife to the Rose Garden!

On a personal note, I’d like to give a shout-out to Keisha Walker, one of the nurses President Obama introduced who was there with him. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Nursing and worked on two projects in my Public Policy class at UPenn. She was passionate about nurses being involved in the political process and about the ability of nurses to have an impact on reproductive health care policy. She is currently at Johns Hopkins as a nurse researcher in their MPH program and clearly still involved in health care policy. Way to go, Keisha! Who is next in line to talk to the president about midwifery?


Seth James and Jennifer Gwen said...

YES! In my efforts to lobby members of congress on "Midwifery Care Access and Reimbursement Act of 2009" S.662/H.R.1101 - their interest peaks when I relay the following:

"We understand how much is on your and the Senator/Congressman's desk in terms of the current health reform agenda, and are aware of the enormity of the task and many competing interests. We appreciate your work and would like to help! It seems that the debate on the hill seems to keep coming back to one question, 'How do we improve health outcomes for ALL Americans with LESS cost to the system?'

At least in the area of women's health, our record of care indicates that midwives are a big part of the answer. Expanding access to midwifery care would significantly reduce costs, while at the same time improve outcomes and patient satisfaction. In fact, correcting the inequity in Medicare reimbursement would arguably REDUCE COSTS by improving access to the more cost effective services of midwives. Please encourage the Senator to support the good work that midwives do, and help us do more, by cosponsoring S. 662.

No cost.
No opposition.
No politics.
Just equal pay for equal work - it makes so much sense."

When pushed on the issue, they like what we midwives have to offer. But they are feeling pushed from a lot of different directions. It is our job as midwives right now, at this CRITICAL TIME, to stay engaged with our legislators. So that midwifery services get greater utilization in the "health care fix" that is certainly to come.

Heather Bradford, CNM, ARNP said...

Well said Seth and Jennifer. We are lucky to have you advocating on our behalf....