Monday, April 27, 2009

Grassroots Network: Action Alert: Help Birth Centers!

Dear Friends,

The American Association of Birth Centers is asking everyone to help with grassroots support in their efforts to get federal legislation that would include birth center facility fees for Medicaid reimbursement. Without this, many birth centers, especially those that serve many Medicaid clients, would have to close. While some state Medicaid programs have reimbursed birth centers in the past, more recently the federal government has taken actions to stop states from including this reimbursement because it is not specified in federal legislation. You can find more information about birth centers and the bill at "Materials to Help You Communicate with Your Legislators."

Please read the message below, which spells out exactly what is needed. All it will take on your part is a couple of phone calls to help make sure that freestanding birth centers can continue to offer women an excellent choice for maternity care.

Thanks for your help!

Susan Hodges, “gatekeeper”

From the American Association of Birth Centers:

How to Help AABC Lobby for the Birth Center Medicaid Bill

The American Association of Birthing Centers (AABC) is seeking federal legislation that would add freestanding birth centers to the list of health professionals and providers eligible for payment under the federal-state Medicaid program. Medicaid is the primary source of payment for maternity care services for low income women; in many states, nearly half of all pregnant women are Medicaid beneficiaries. The Federal law that lists all Medicaid-eligible providers is section 1905(a) of the Social Security Act. Although hospitals, physicians, nurse-midwives, clinics, and others are among those listed, birth centers are not. This means that birth centers cannot be reimbursed for the facility fees they charge, which are like hospital facility fees, but much less money.

Next week, AABC’s bill will be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Susan Davis (D., CA) (San Diego). It will then be assigned a bill number and an official name. We will let you know when that happens, but don’t wait to make your calls. AABC is asking all birth professionals, birth advocates, and supporters of improving maternity care to help us lobby for this bill. Grassroots support phone calls to Congress is the single most important element in whether a bill like this becomes law.

Please help. It’s easy. (See #4 below for how to find out who your Congresspeople are.) Here’s all you have to do:

1. Call the Washington, D.C. office of your Congressperson to ask if he or she will co-sponsor Rep. Davis’ bill. We particularly want co-sponsors who are members (Dem. or Rep.) of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. (Find a list of the members (with state indicated) at , click on “About the Committee” to get to the list of members, and see if your Representative is on this important committee.)

2. Call the Washington, D.C. office of your Senator and ask if he or she will introduce the bill in the Senate. If he/she doesn’t want to do that, then ask if he or she will co-sponsor the bill. (Find a list of members of the Senate Finance Committee at

3. When you make your call, ask to speak with the Health Legislative Assistant for the Senator or Congressperson. Tell him or her:

· how important this bill is to Medicaid mothers and babies,
· how great birth center outcomes are, and
· how important it is to keep birth centers as viable options for low income women.
Please take a look at the "Materials to Help You Communicate with Your Legislators" at: for more background information about birth centers and our bill these materials will provide some good talking points.

4. Everyone knows their federal Senators, but you may not be so sure about your Congressperson There are many search engines online that will allow you to simply type in your address and find out all your federal and state representatives. ACNM has a good one ( Here are links to the Senate and House search pages: OR

5. Call, do not email. Phone calls are the most valuable tool for grassroots lobbying. If you get a busy signal, call back. Right away. Use speed-dial. You’ll get through. Identify yourself as a constituent, and then tell them what you want.

6. AABC’s lobbyist is Karen Fennell. Her phone number is 301-830-3910. Her email is Give this information to the Health L.A., and then send Karen an email to tell her who you are, who you called, and what they said. If they want more information, tell them Karen will follow up.

7. Ask your spouse, partner, families members, friends, co-workers to call. It’s good practice for health care reform later this year.

Thanks so much for your help.

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