Members of the Steward Health Choice MassHealth accountable care organization plan will now be able to get free care from doulas during pregnancy and childbirth. A doula, according to Steward, is a trained, non-clinical professional who provides educational, emotional and physical support to parents and families throughout pregnancy, birth and the early postpartum period.
“Doula care for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum is a wise investment in the health and well-being of parents and their newborns. There is a measurable, positive impact in both the short- and long-term, and Steward Health Choice is excited to make this service available to our members,” said Deb Yolin, the vice president of clinical programs for Steward Health Care Network.
Steward Health Choice is the largest Medicaid ACO in Massachusetts, covering more than 120,000 people. It plans to provide free doula care to members giving birth at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton and Norwood Hospital, as well as to “high-risk members” giving birth at other Massachusetts hospitals.
The doula program launched in April, and Steward Health Choice announced it on Wednesday, the same day advocates were urging state lawmakers to pass a bill that would allow the reimbursement of doula services for women on MassHealth. Filed by Reps. Liz Miranda and Lindsay Sabadosa, the bill (H 1182) was highlighted at a March of Dimes lobby day at the State House. “Doulas save lives,” Miranda posted on Twitter. She wrote that she was “On a mission to save Black Moms, we are dying 4xs to 8xs the rate of other women.”