Maternity Full Court Press Team Assembles

A virtual meeting provided the opportunity for pregnancy and postpartum care advocates from across Pennsylvania to collaborate on policy discussions.

The new Comprehensive Approaches to Pregnancy and Postpartum Care Full Court Press Team will focus on advancing state and local policy objectives for midwives, WIC, and doulas/perinatal community health workers. These efforts will build on JHF's past work in women's health and connections with state leadership, health systems, and stakeholders.

"We have been on the forefront of women's health improvements regionally, and this is a monumental day for us to talk about change that we are going to make," said HCF Board Chair and Full Court Press Maternity Chair Pat Siger during the first Team meeting, held virtually in November. Team members, including JHF and Health Careers Futures (HCF) Board members and outside experts, had the rare opportunity to collaborate across specialties of Pennsylvania perinatal health providers, WIC and doula advocates, and midwives.

During the first Team meeting, Emily McGahey, CNM, MSN, State Legislative Committee Co-Chair of the American College of Nurse-Midwives Pennsylvania Affiliate presented policy asks and tactics around the modernization of professional midwifery in Pennsylvania. McGahey noted, "There is an abundance of research documenting safe outcomes with midwives, globally and here in the states, but unfortunately there are many barriers to midwifery practice." McGahey identified five legislative priorities to addressing these barriers: licensure of certified midwives, update the regulatory language, allow prescription of medicated assisted treatment by midwives, modernize collaborative agreements, and create a midwifery liaison committee to the PA Board of Medicine.

Darlena Birch, MBA, RDN, Senior Public Health Nutritionist of the National WIC Association (the nonprofit education arm and advocacy voice of WIC) presented federal and state policy targets to support comprehensive and more equitable WIC programs. These include increasing opportunities for WIC participants to access services remotely/online, expanding access for the postpartum period and for children up to age six, and co-locating WIC centers and community health centers in the same building for "one-stop shopping." In addition, improved coordination between WIC and physicians/health systems will be more effective and supportive to WIC participants. State WIC programs including New Jersey and Maryland have already seen success by implementing changes like these, and Pennsylvania could see similar results by following their models.

JHF Chief Policy Officer Robert Ferguson, MPH presented policy levers to certify and reimburse perinatal community health workers and doulas in PA, possibly through amended Medicaid payment models. The Team could also model JHF's past work in creating a Certified Community Health Worker Credential for Pennsylvania and support the development of a state doula certification credential and advisory board as well.

Moving into 2021, the Team will next meet in January and continue collaboration between members, to better support comprehensive care of pregnant and birthing persons across Pennsylvania. 

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