As President Obama pushes healthcare reform at a truly astonishing (and rather frightening) pace, there is one piece of the very expensive pie which is getting all but ignored: health care for pregnancy and delivery. Which is surprising, really, because it affects so many women (read: voters) and costs $86 billion a year (actual cost in the year 2006).
There are quite a few midwifery advocacy groups working toward including measures in the healthcare bill which would give women more choices, while also limiting costs. The savings could be as much as $9.1 billion a year if only 10% of women gave birth under midwifery care instead of in a hospital. Those are numbers that really ought to make President Obama sit up and take note.
Jennifer Block, author of Pushed, has written a well-researched overview of the current state of the birth advocacy efforts and their potential effects on healthcare reform. It is definitely worth reading.
And then, statistics in hand, please consider writing your congressmen. Ask them to include birth reform in their health care bill, allowing pregnant women access to midwifery care in all states (currently some states have criminalized lay midwifery) and regardless of insurance policy (Medicaid does not currently reimburse for midwifery care). Ask them to stand up for the rights of the birthing woman.