© 2024 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Lamont wants to expand Connecticut's maternal services with birthing centers

Microbial diversity could be a factor in premature births.
Lawmakers propose to expand maternal services in Connecticut.

Governor Ned Lamont earlier this week pushed for licensing free-standing birthing centers, which would operate largely independent of hospitals, and the creation of a certification pathway for doulas, among other proposals to expand maternal services in Connecticut.

Dr. Manisha Juthani, the state public health commissioner, said increased access to maternal healthcare would help center racial equity in the field.

“In our state and in this nation, we have a maternal health crisis where Black birthing people are suffering the consequences more than any other birthing population,” Juthani said, alongside supporters of improved maternal health care during a legislative Public Health Committee hearing on Monday during a discussion of Senate Bill 986.

In a statement, Lamont cited that nationally, “between 2015 and 2017, persons of color made up 44.9% of those giving birth and 63.6% of pregnancy-related deaths.” Lamont attributed the inconsistency to “lack of equitable access to health care resources, including providers.”

Laura Shulman Cordeira, director of Community Health and Wellness at the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association, also supported another component of the bill that pushes universal nurse home visits early in an infant’s life to offer additional care.

Identifying as a mother who gave birth in the state, Shulman Cordeira said that for states that have already implemented the type of program proposed by Lamont, such as Oregon and New Jersey, “savings average $26,898 per family served, or $2.90 per dollar invested."

Jim Iacobellis, senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs at the Connecticut Hospital Association, questioned the feasibility of the proposed legislation. “Our concern is not about the birthing centers,” he said. “But it's about the regulatory structure around it, and more clarity around it. How does HIPAA apply? Or the privacy rules, or mandatory insurance?”

Further, Iacobellis was in favor of measures that would support additional maternal services, including doulas, home visiting service and the creation of an infant mortality review committee.

He notes 20% of women who go to birthing centers need additional care and support.

The infant mortality review program was introduced alongside House Bill 6669, which aims to reduce the costs of health care services for Connecticut residents.

Eda Uzunlar is WSHU's Poynter Fellow for Media and Journalism.