Tuesday, September 3, 2013

letters from MIPP

About a month ago we reported on amendments to legislation applying to eligible midwives and Medicare.

The ability of a midwife to attend a woman giving birth in a hospital was a major item in the Medicare reforms, introduced more than three years ago.

Yet ...

  • Despite many assurances that the Victorian government supports the federal government's maternity reforms, and has developed a framework for credentialing of midwives, no midwives in Victoria have made collaborative agreements with hospitals.  
  • Midwives are able to buy insurance policies through MIGA, underwritten by Treasury, providing uncapped cover for women receiving midwifery services from eligible midwives for birth in hospital - yet they can't get access to the hospitals.
  • Women would be able to claim up to approximately $1500 rebate for intrapartum midwifery services (2 midwives) - if the midwives could get access to the hospitals.
  • Midwives are continuing to provide professional services for women in their communities, and accompanying them to hospital for birth or other specialist obstetric services if and when the need arises.
  • Midwives report that some doctors who have previously agreed to collaborate with midwives have withdrawn, giving reasons such as "I don't think homebirth is a good idea" - when the collaborative arrangement covers only antenatal and postnatal midwifery services.
This is unacceptable.  What other profession would sit back and accept persistent exclusion from their usual places of practice?  Why are women who would prefer to give birth in hospital in the care of their known and trusted midwife being prevented from doing so? 

A new round of letters has been sent by MIPP to the public hospitals, respectfully requesting an update on progress.

A similar letter has been prepared, and is being sent to obstetricians and GPs who have agreed to collaborate with midwives, usually through a letter of referral, or in some instances, through a signed collaborative agreement.

The content of this letter is copied below:

Re:  Collaboration and hospital visiting access for Midwives

Dear Doctor
This letter is to inform you of recent changes in legislation governing the requirement for collaborative arrangements for eligible midwives, such as referral of women to the midwife for antenatal and postnatal midwifery services.  We thank you for your participation in collaborative arrangements to date, which have enabled women to claim Medicare rebate on the fees of midwives who have Medicare provider numbers. 
Since the introduction in April 2010 of amendments to the Health Insurance Act (1973), some midwives have reported ongoing difficulties in establishing collaborative arrangements. This has hindered their ability to participate in the Medicare arrangements.
In recognition of this, at the 10 August 2012 Standing Council on Health (SCoH) meeting, the Commonwealth agreed to expand the types of collaborative arrangements available to midwives in an attempt to make it easier for midwives to work collaboratively with medical practitioners employed or engaged by hospitals or other health services. On July 25th 2013 the Health Insurance Amendment (Midwives) Regulation 2013 http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2013L01432 was introduced.
Accordingly, the purpose of the regulation is to enable midwives to demonstrate collaborative arrangements that provide pathways for consultation, referral and transfer of care to specified medical practitioners employed or engaged by a public or private hospital or other entity such as a health service, through an arrangement with the hospital or entity. The regulation adds a new type of collaborative arrangement for an eligible midwife who is credentialed for clinical privileges within a hospital.  It is expected that the hospital will have a formal written agreement with such midwives, addressing consultation, referral and transfer of care, relevant clinical guidelines and locally determined policies.
Letters have been sent to the public maternity hospitals on behalf of MIPPS, requesting an update on the processes that are being implemented, by which the hospitals will provide eligible midwives the opportunity to have collaborative arrangements.  Until these new processes are established, midwives and our clients will continue to rely on the collaborative agreements and arrangements, such as referral, that have been used in the past couple of years.
Yours sincerely,

Your comments are welcome.

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