Midwives’ Use Now Covered By Insurance

January 23, 1983: “Midwives’ Use Now Covered By Insurance,” (Classic Article), The New York Times


Several years ago a midwife delivered the baby of a constituent of a New York City member of the State Assembly. ”She was very excited about the experience,” the Assemblyman, Richard N. Gottfried, recalled, ”but very annoyed that her insurance policy didn’t cover the birth.”

Mr. Gottfried, a Democrat whose district then included Roosevelt Hospital, which has one of the oldest midwifery programs in the city, took her complaint seriously. With State Senator Hugh T. Farley, a Republican, he introduced an amendment to the New York State Insurance Law requiring that coverage for maternity care include the services of certified nurse-midwives who work under the guidance of doctors and in conjunction with hospitals or clinics. After a two-year legislative struggle the law passed, becoming effective on Jan. 1.

The measure is a reflection of the growing acceptance of midwifeattended births. It is more a revival than a trend. Seventy years ago midwives delivered 30 percent of the babies born in New York City. After World War I, however, reliance came to be placed on hospitalbased obstetricians. Today the number of midwife-assisted births is still relatively small, with about 200 certified nurse-midwives in New York State, half of them in New York City, delivering 3 percent of the babies.

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