In 2006, NACPM participated in an important initiative to reform health care in the United States For the first time, the federal government asked all Americans what they think is important in order to make health care work for all citizens in the United States. NACPM implemented a plan to have CPMs participate in many of the citizen meetings held around the country to bring the perspective of CPMs to the table in these discussions. The presence of midwives at these meetings was noted by policy makers. The history of this initiative is described below.
Citizen’s Health Care Working Group
Three legislative sessions ago, two US congressmen, Congressman Hatch (R. of Utah) and Congressman Wyden (D. of Oregon) proposed legislation that set up a working group to gather ideas from US citizens about what they want the components of health care reform to be. This legislation was included as a component of the Medicaid Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act that passed the congress. This legislation set up the Citizen’s Health Care Working Group, a non-partisan 14-member commission made up of citizens from around the country. Over the first year of its life, this commission held by-invitation forums around the country to gather information. During its second year, the commission held open town-hall forums in cities around the country to gather citizen input.
Randall Johnson, the chairman of the Working Group and the director of human resources strategic initiatives for Motorola, said, “The American health care system has significant problems when it comes to the increasing costs, unreliable quality and inconsistent access to care. The working group is inviting the American people to take part in an unprecedented effort where they become part of the dialogue and provide feedback on what needs to happen and what tough choices they are willing to make so that the system works for all Americans.” This effort had real teeth in it: the statute mandated that the information gathered from these forums be turned into recommendations to be presented to the president and to five congressional committees. These committees were then required by law to hold congressional hearings on these recommendations that are the result of ideas from US citizens.
Becky Martin, long-time midwifery consumer advocate and now the Outreach and Education Coordinator for Universal Health Care Action Network (UHCAN), (www.uhcan.org) reached out to citizens and health care professionals including midwives across the country to become involved. UHCAN and 17 other national organizations, along with many other state and local organizations, partnered to form the Making Health Care Work for All Campaign to address opportunities offered by the Citizens' Health Care Working Group.
NACPM joined the Making Health Care Work for All Campaign as aparticipating organization! NACPM passed along information to our members and others about how midwives can and must be involved. Midwives attended the public meetings that happened around the country over a two-month period. NACPM actively solicited midwifery participation by calling midwives who live in the participating cities to attend these meetings, arranged information calls with Becky Martin from UHCAN to prepare for the meetings, and gave the midwives talking points to consider when they participated in the forums. This midwife participation demonstrated that midwives are concerned about health care reform for all our country’s citizens. It also gave an essential opportunity for midwives to become involved in the health care reform process.
Becky points out that most states have a health reform coalition but at the moment there are few midwives at the table in these coalitions. The real opportunity for midwives to have a voice in health care reform exists inparticipating in these state coalitions. It is by participating in these state coalitions that midwives can work to make sure that the cost-effective primary maternity care that we as midwives provide to women can take its proper place in a reformed and just health care delivery system in the United States. We as midwives must become involved now and take our place in these coalitions. As Becky tells us, the health care reform train is leaving the station. If we do not get on the train now, it could be many years before the opportunity is available again.
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