November 15, 2018
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Doula Medicaid Pilot in Erie County and Parts of Brooklyn to Launch in Early 2019

Governor Cuomo Announces Doula Medicaid Pilot in Erie County and Parts of Brooklyn to Launch in Early 2019

Training and Outreach to Doulas, Providers, and Expectant Mothers to Begin This Month

Department of Health to Start Accepting Doula Provider Applications On December 1, 2018

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the New York State Department of Health will launch a pilot expansion of the State's Medicaid program to cover doula services beginning in Erie County and parts of Kings County. This month, the Department of Health will begin the necessary training, outreach and education efforts to ensure the successful launch of the pilot. The doula pilot, scheduled for launch March 1, 2019, is a part of the Governor's multi-pronged initiative to target maternal mortality and reduce racial disparities in health outcomes.

"Every New Yorker deserves a healthy childbirth experience regardless of ethnicity, birthplace or economic status and expanding access to doula services is crucial to reducing racial disparities in maternal mortality rates," Governor Cuomo said. "New York will continue to take action to provide women with the resources and child care they need and this pilot program is a significant step toward ensuring a safer, healthier and more just New York for all."

"It is a grave injustice that here in New York State black women are four times more likely to die during childbirth than white women," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "While New York has made progress to ensure all women have access to quality, affordable healthcare to prevent maternal mortality, a vast racial disparity still exists that requires creative solutions and bold action. This Medicaid pilot to cover doula services in Erie County and parts of Kings County will help to expand maternal care and save lives. All New York mothers, regardless of ethnicity, should have the same opportunity to live long healthy lives."

The Department of Health (DOH) will begin Medicaid enrollment and in-person Medicaid billing training and assistance to doulas in both counties starting in November and continuing through January 2019. A doula is a non-medical birth coach who assists a woman before, during or after childbirth if needed. The use of doulas has been shown to increase positive health outcomes, including reducing birth complications for the mother and the baby. Both Erie and Kings Counties have the state's highest number of Medicaid births and maternal and infant mortality rates.

The New York State Medicaid Program will reimburse participating doulas for support during labor and delivery, up to three prenatal visits and up to four postpartum visits. To participate in the pilot, a doula must sign an attestation form provided by the DOH affirming that the doula training program they have completed meets a set of core competencies, including instruction in cultural competency.

The DOH last week hosted a webinar to educate the stakeholder community, including doulas, providers and managed care organizations, on the final details of the pilot program. Additional training, education and outreach to help doulas enroll in the Medicaid program and educate Medicaid members on the new benefit will continue through the anticipated launch date. DOH will also create brochures and other informational materials that can be used by doulas, providers, and managed care organizations to share with eligible Medicaid members. Through a locally focused social media campaign, DOH will promote the availability of doula services to Medicaid members in Erie County and parts of Kings County.

Current and updated information will also be available here.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker said, "Research shows that doulas can help women have a more positive pregnancy experience and better health outcomes for themselves and their babies. This pilot makes it possible for more women to have access to doula services during their pregnancies and after, which will hopefully reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. Once again, Governor Cuomo is showing that women's health issues are a priority in the State of New York."

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "Protecting and expanding women's rights and health care opportunities is one of the top priorities for the Senate Democrats. This pilot program for Medicaid to cover doula services is an important initiative and I commend Governor Cuomo for his leadership on this issue. Increasing access to doulas has the potential to save lives by addressing maternal and infant mortality. It is my hope that this pilot program is a resounding success and can be expanded throughout New York State."

Assembly Member Latoya Joyner said, "As the issue of improving maternal health rates becomes a central focus in New York State, I am pleased that Doula services will now be included in the Medicaid Program. I appreciate Governor Cuomo taking significant first steps to address a major public health crisis. I look forward to these services being extended throughout the state."

Assembly Member Amy Paulin said, "It is imperative that we address the increasing rates of maternal mortality in New York. This initiative will provide much needed support to underserved populations in our state. I commend the Governor and the Department of Health for their commitment to improved outcomes for women and their babies."

Assembly Member Tremaine Wright said, “Doulas, midwives and alternative health practitioners have long been a part of maternal and family health in communities of color. Capturing these important practitioners in Medicaid repayment is a major recognition and will go a long way to increase healthy births. This was a major initiative of the Taskforce on Maternal Mortality and Disparate Racial Outcomes and the Vital Brooklyn Plan. We are happy to stand with Governor Cuomo as we take this major step towards birth equity.”

Assembly Member Michaelle C. Solages said, “Numerous studies examining doula care have demonstrated significant improvements in physical and psychological outcomes for both mother and baby. Regardless of the socioeconomic status, a woman should not be subject to limited birthing support. I applaud Governor Cuomo for establishing a pilot program in New York State that will offer mothers the opportunity to be cared for by certified doulas.”

Dr. Susan Beane, Vice President and Medical Director for Healthfirst said, "Healthfirst is pleased to be part of this important pilot program on behalf of our members who will benefit from the Doula services that will be provided by the Medicaid Program in New York State. We are extremely proud to partner with Doulas in Kings county, who have a track record of providing this service to women and families who need it the most."

Shannon Johns from Calming Center Doula Center said, "Recognizing the need for Doulas in underserved communities is a large step forward in addressing racial inequalities for women in New York. We commend Governor Cuomo for his leadership and look forward to collaborating and promoting these new and exciting services."

LuAnn Brown, RN, CEO of the Buffalo Prenatal-Perinatal Network, Inc. said, "Thank you to Governor Cuomo for his continued efforts to improve outcomes for women in Buffalo. New York State's strong leadership and focus on health equity reinforces their commitment to work towards the elimination of racial disparities and tackle the social determinants that impact maternal health."

Debra Lesane from the Caribbean Women's Health Association said, "We are pleased to see that the New York State Department of Health is piloting the expansion of Medicaid coverage to include Doula support for pregnant women in Kings County. We believe that this pilot will help to eliminate the racial disparities in maternal health. We are confident that the provision of Doula support services to woman will help to improve outcomes for both mother and child."

Reverend Diann Holt, Executive Director of the Durham's Baby Café said, "We applaud New York's commitment to improving maternal and infant mortality by covering Doula services. We are looking forward to collaborating with the State on this exciting pilot."

For more information about New York State's Medicaid Doula Pilot, visit:

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640


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