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New York Is Finally Expanding Medicaid’s Coverage of Doulas

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Did you know that black women are four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women in New York State? And in New York City, black women are 12 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.

This is shameful. Thankfully, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo just announced a series of initiatives aimed to decrease these unacceptably high rates, including a program that will expand Medicaid coverage for doulas.

Having a doula present for a birth decreases complications — and yet, most women don’t use them, largely because the cost (up to $1,500 per birth). 

Cuomo said in a statement that all moms should get the care they need, regardless of their wealth: “Maternal mortality should not be a fear anyone in New York should have to face in the 21st century,” he said, as published in the New York Times. “We are taking aggressive action to break down barriers that prevent women from getting the prenatal care and information they need.”

In general, the U.S.’s mortality rates are much higher than other wealthy nations. And if each state starts to set a precedent for prioritizing women’s health, we’ll all be better for it.

The program is set to begin immediately once it’s finalized by the state’s Health Department within 45 days. New York would join Minnesota and Oregon as the only other states that allow Medicaid reimbursements for doula services.

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