By Molly Giammarco, Senior Manager, Lamaze Government Relations
Lamaze International’s advocacy and government relations team has had a busy year. The momentum generated from its December 2015 Childbirth Education Roundtable helped Lamaze to hit the ground running in 2016 with opportunities to engage payer groups, partner with stakeholders to promote mutual initiatives, and submit formal comments the support evidence-based childbirth education to several stakeholder and government groups.
Lamaze International’s increased advocacy activity has not gone unnoticed, as we have received several invitations over the past year to participate in multi-stakeholder focus and work groups. Lamaze is now a member of the National Pregnancy Working Group, the Health Care Learning Action Network Multi-Stakeholder Action Collaborative (MAC), and the U.S. Congressional Maternity Care Caucus.
These opportunities not only increase Lamaze International’s advocacy presence, they also enable Lamaze to more effectively support its members by advocating for payer coverage, increased provider collaboration, and expanded recognition of the role childbirth educators have in improving maternal-infant outcomes. Multi-stakeholder working groups—such as the ones above—influence policy and national trends, which provides Lamaze with the ideal platform to promote evidence-based childbirth education.
The National Pregnancy Working Group
Lamaze received an invitation to join the National Pregnancy Working Group--a collaborative of maternal and prenatal clinical, consumer, and advocacy groups--shortly after hosting the Lamaze International Childbirth Education Roundtable. Working group members have a monthly call to discuss and develop collaborative strategies to respond to policies, legislation, and events that affect maternal and prenatal care. The Working Group also serves as a staging ground for partnerships among its members, as issues related to access, cost, and quality for maternal and prenatal care are commonly discussed.
The Health Care Learning Action Network Multi-Stakeholder Action Collaborative
A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services initiative, the MAC seeks to develop alternative-payment models for maternity/prenatal care. Lamaze participated in the MAC’s kick-off meeting in early December, which effectively put childbirth education on the radars of many of the payer- and provider-group members of the MAC.
Many hospitals and payers have begun to pilot alternative-payment models, such as bundled payments, to find a way to deliver quality and comprehensive prenatal care at lower costs. The MAC seeks to develop models that pool resources, facilitate provider collaboration, and include standard preventive measures to improve childbirth outcomes and increase efficiency in delivering quality prenatal care. Lamaze brings a consumer perspective to the MAC, whose members include policy-making groups, hospitals, and private and public payers—including many state Medicaid groups. As alternative payment models build momentum, Lamaze will continue to stress the importance of including evidence-based childbirth education in prenatal- care packages.
The U.S. Congressional Maternity Care Caucus
Lamaze is also participating in the newly formed U.S. Congressional Maternity Care Caucus, which brings maternal stakeholders together to discuss and advocate for policies and legislation that promote comprehensive pre- and postnatal care. Much of the Caucus’ first meeting in late November focused on preserving and increasing awareness of the breastfeeding-friendly provisions within the Affordable Care Act. Caucus members plan to engage members of Congress to ensure that the aforementioned provisions are included in any revised or new healthcare-overhaul legislation.
Lamaze advocacy in 2016 was busier than ever—but may pale in comparison to 2017 as efforts to support existing maternal health provisions increase—and Lamaze invites you all to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress. Mark your calendars for October 23-24, 2017, and plan to join other birth professionals at the Lamaze International 2017 Advocacy Summit: Advancing Safe and Healthy Birth. Stay tuned for more information and details. In the meantime, let us know how we can best advocate for childbirth education—and you as we work together to improve maternal and infant outcomes both in the United States and abroad. Feel free to reach out to the Lamaze government relations team, if you would like to get more involved in Lamaze advocacy.