Health insurance

Calif. Midwives Seek Loosening of Rules

Current law denies insurance coverage

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The system governing California's licensed midwives poses a predicament: While a 1993 law mandates that home births must be overseen by a supervising physician, doctors, fearful of losing their malpractice insurance, stay away.

The Medical Board of California deals with the stalemate by not penalizing midwives who deliver babies without a physician present.

"We're not going after them with regards to physician oversight at this time at all," said spokeswoman Cassandra Hockenson.

The requirement does, however, block insurance policies – including Medi-Cal, California's insurance program for the poor – from covering midwives. As a result, midwives and advocates say, women across California are being discouraged from pursuing home births.

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