BOSTON — MassHealth has announced a new benefit allowing coverage of doula services for pregnant, birthing, and postpartum members. As part of the Healey-Driscoll administration’s efforts to address health disparities and advance health equity in Massachusetts, this coverage aims to expand access to doula care, which has been shown to improve several maternal and infant health outcomes. MassHealth covers about 40% of all births in Massachusetts.
Doulas provide non-medical emotional, informational, and physical support to individuals and families during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. Evidence shows that birthing people with doula care are less likely to have a C-section, pre-term birth, or low-birth-weight infant, and more likely to report a positive birth experience, experience shorter labor, and to initiate breastfeeding. Doulas can also play an important role in reducing disparities and inequities for low-income families and families of color.
Based on this evidence, MassHealth’s chief medical officer has issued a standing recommendation for doula services for all pregnant and postpartum MassHealth members.
“Making doula care accessible to MassHealth members is an important part of our efforts to improve maternal health and advance health equity in Massachusetts,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh said. “Findings from the Department of Public Health’s Review of Maternal Health Services earlier this year and from the Special Commission on Racial Inequities in Maternal Health in 2022 point to doula care as an important means of improving maternal and infant health outcomes, especially for people of color.”
MassHealth doula coverage includes labor and delivery support and visits during pregnancy and postpartum. MassHealth’s typical reimbursement for doula care will be one of the highest of any state that covers doula services through Medicaid.
Doulas can now apply to enroll as a MassHealth doula provider and receive payment for serving MassHealth members. Doulas can enroll if they get formal training or if they have demonstrated experience working as a doula. MassHealth encourages doulas from across the Commonwealth to apply. In the coming months, MassHealth will focus on building the network of MassHealth doula providers to meet the needs of its diverse members. MassHealth anticipates that members will be able to access doula services beginning in the spring of 2024.