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Birth center licensure approved

Published (3/4/2010)
By Lauren Radomski
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Minnesota could be among the growing number of states requiring licensure for birth centers, the non-hospital facilities performing low-risk deliveries.

“Birth centers are here in Minnesota — it’s not a debate,” Amy Johnson Grass, a certified professional midwife, told the House Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee March 2. “Right now we’re looking for licensure to ensure that safety and that standard.”

The committee approved HF3046, which would require Minnesota birth centers to be accredited by the national Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers and obtain a license from the Department of Health. Sponsored by Rep. Maria Ruud (DFL-Minnetonka), the bill was referred to the House Health Care and Human Services Finance Division. A companion, SF2702, sponsored by Sen. Linda Berglin (DFL-Mpls), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

Three Minnesota birth centers are in the process of accreditation, Ruud said.

The bill defines a low-risk pregnancy as a normal, uncomplicated prenatal course that’s expected to result in a normal, uncomplicated labor and birth. The legislation would limit a birth center’s surgical procedures and use of anesthesia, and prohibit centers from performing abortions. Another provision would result in Medical Assistance reimbursement for birth centers’ facility and professional fees.

Dr. Andrea Flom, president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said her organization supports the bill, but would like to ensure birth centers have appropriate emergency plans in case a mother or infant requires immediate hospital care.

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