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RI Birthworker Cooperative launches to support community doulas

Insurance coverage for doula care is now law, but the logistics of billing can be complicated for birth workers to navigate. The RI Birthworker Cooperative is here to help.

Community doulas in Rhode Island have launched a member-owned and operated cooperative to help implement insurance reimbursement. The historic passage of the RI perinatal doula act means that as of 7/1/2022, all Rhode Island insurers must cover perinatal doula care. Perinatal doulas provide support to pregnant, birthing, and postpartum people. Data shows that access to community-based culturally-competent doula care improves outcomes. Insurance coverage for doula care will significantly expand access and is likely to reduce the racial disparities associated with pregnancy outcomes in RI.

The RI Birthworker Cooperative was formed by community doulas to offer support with the billing, record-keeping, and administrative infrastructure associated with insurance reimbursement. The Cooperative is owned and managed by its doula members, and operates based on core values: birth justice, the community doula model, cultural humility, full spectrum care, a cooperative structure, and increased access and equity.

“After the bill passed, insurance healthcare entities and insurance companies began trying to build or contract with pseudo-doula agencies” explains Coop co-founder Susie Finnerty. “Doula care is most effective when doulas work directly for families, not for managing healthcare institutions or insurance companies. We needed something that was doula designed, owned, and operated.”

In addition to administrative support, the cooperative offers community education on doula care, and consultation services to health plans and health institutions to develop doula programs and reimbursement structures that center families and the community doula model.

Doulas who are interested in joining the Cooperative can do so at the cooperative website. To learn more, or support this doula led effort by purchasing merchandise & joining as an individual or corporate sponsor,  please visit www.ribirthworkercoop.com

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