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Senate committee hears testimony on doula bill



There is no question that this bill will save lives and be good for women of color in Rhode Island,” said Senator Ana Quezada, “but it also makes strong economic sense. Women who use doulas often require fewer expensive medical interventions during childbirth, which will save them, the hospitals, and the insurance companies money and make the childbirth process much easier for all involved.”

On Tuesday evening the Rhode Island Senate Committee on Health and Human Services heard testimony on a bill to provide “for medical assistance health care for expectant mothers and establishes medical assistance coverage and reimbursement rates for perinatal doula services.”

Doulas are trained healthcare professionals who provide the mother with continuous physical, emotional and informational support during pregnancy, childbirth and the first few weeks after giving birth. During childbirth, they help make women comfortable by providing breathing techniques, massages and advice, and also help advocate for the woman’s needs that she may not be able to express on her own. Births assisted by doulas also have significantly lower rates of cesarean sections, with one study showing a 39 percent reduction.

The Senate passed a version of the bill last year, but it died in committee over at the House. This year Governor Gina Raimondo included payment for doula services in her budget.

The advocacy needs to not only be on the Health and Human Services committee, said Committee Chair Joshua Miller (Democrat, District 28, Cranston), but also the finance committees of both chambers and the Governor’s office “to support the budget article.”

Miller also wants advocates to provide the data that shows that funding doula services will save money, because women will need less, more costly medical interventions during childbirth and less post natal services as well.

In all, 21 people spoke in favor of the bill and no one spoke against, though there was some written commentary provided by insurance providers that requested some alterations to the bill.

Here’s the video:

Senator Ana Quezada (Democrat, District 2, Providence) is the Senate sponsor of the bill:

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Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (Democrat, District 5, Providence) is the sponsor of the House bill:

Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner spoke in favor of the bill:

Senator Donna Nesselbush (Democrat, District 15, Pawtucket):

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.