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Maternity Care Legislation

 A new maternity care bill, AB 1825 (De La Torre), is poised to reach the Senate floor.

In California, there is no existing law requiring health insurers to designate which basic health care services are covered, so health insurers are not forced to provide coverage for maternity services. As a result, an estimated $21 million is paid for women who already have insurance, but are lacking or enduring substandard maternity care, and thus, seek this care through state programs, such as AIM, the Access for Infants and Mother’s program.

AB 1825 would require health insurers to submit to the CA Department of Insurance revised policy forms that provide coverage for specified maternity services, including prenatal care, ambulatory care maternity services, involuntary complications of pregnancy, neonatal care, inpatient hospital care with labor, delivery and postpartum care.

The bill is currently parked at the Senate Appropriations Committee due to a budgetary analysis stating that two staff positions will be needed for effective implementation, roughly totaling $100,000 each year. (In these lean budget years, most bills with any price tag at all get held up at Approps).

Despite this associated expense, Beth McGovern, legislative director of the California Commission on the Status of Women, believes the bill will actually save money. She is convinced that, “women who don’t have health insurance are likely to delay or forego prenatal care, which increases the likelihood of pregnancy complications, and complications at birth…that often involves public cost to take care of both the patient and the child.”

The committee is set to take up AB 1825 again in August once the state Legislature reconvenes.

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