TESTIMONY OF THE AMERICAN CONGRESS OF OBSTETRICIANS & GYNECOLOGISTS
AND THE MAINE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
IN SUPPORT OF
L.D 130, AN ACT TO PROVIDE FUNDING FOR COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH
REQUIRING THE LICENSING OF MIDWIVES
Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research & Economic Development
Room 209, Cross State Office Building
Tuesday, January 31, 2017, 1:00 pm
Good afternoon Senator Volk, Representative Fecteau, and Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research & Economic Development. I am Peter Michaud, Associate General Counsel for the Maine Medical Association (MMA) and a registered nurse. I live in Readfield, and I am speaking in support of LD 130, An Act to Provide Funding for Costs Associated with Requiring the Licensing of Midwives.
The MMA is a professional association representing more than 4,000 physicians, residents, and medical students in Maine whose mission is to support Maine physicians, advance the quality of medicine in Maine, and promote the health of all Maine citizens. We represent physicians from all medical specialties, as well as public health and primary care.
I am also testifying today on behalf of ACOG, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG is the specialty's premier professional membership organization dedicated to the improvement of women's health and the advancement of women’s health care. It has over 58,000 members around the country.
In 2007, the certified professional midwives of Maine came to the Legislature seeking licensure of their profession. At that time, Maine physicians, particularly including obstetricians and gynecologists, had serious concerns about their goals, and we opposed that effort. It did not pass. In 2014, the midwives began a new, collaborative effort to achieve licensure. This time they sat down with representatives of the MMA, ACOG, the American Congress of Nurse Midwives, and the neonatal and perinatal nurses. After over 20 two-hour negotiating sessions among the parties, a bill agreed to by all interested groups was introduced in the 127th Legislature, and it passed. Now we are asking the 128th to fund its implementation.
Licensing of certified professional midwives (and of certified midwives, who are trained at the graduate level) is a matter of public health and public safety. Without licensure, there is absolutely no public oversight over the preparation, training and activities of midwives. Without licensure, they are free to perform any procedure they choose, regardless of the level of risk and regardless of the practitioner’s level of education, training and professionally supervised practice…if any. Maine’s obstetricians and gynecologists consider that an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of the women and babies of this state.
Proposed rules are currently being drafted by a group made up primarily of professionals in the subject area of childbirth. These proposed rules should give the two licensing boards (Complementary Health Care and Medicine) an excellent and substantial start on the task for which they are ultimately responsible and should reduce the cost of implementing the licensing statute. But the cost, although anticipated to be low, is not zero. The cost for the first year is higher than the cost for the second year, due both to the different amount of work to be done in the two years and to the fact that license fees will begin to cover some of the costs. The midwives and the medical community are doing our part. We need the Legislature’s help so that funding is available for the licensing boards to do their part.
The Maine Medical Association and ACOG believe that the funding and implementation of this licensing law is essential to the protection of Maine women’s health and safety. Thank you for considering our perspective on LD 130, and I respectfully ask you to vote the bill “Ought to Pass.” I would be happy to respond to any questions you may have.