A bill to improve access to health care for California women by allowing certified nurse midwives (CNM) to practice independently passed the Assembly unopposed today.
AB 1306, by Assemblywoman Autumn R. Burke (D-Inglewood), allows California’s approximately 1,200 CNMs, within their existing scope of practice, to work without the supervision of a physician.
“Millions of women are newly insured under the Affordable Care Act, but may not live in communities with easy access to a supervising physician,” Burke said. “This bill allows them to get essential primary care services from midwives who already have the experience and training necessary to provide excellent care.”
California is one of only six states in the country to require CNMs to work under the supervision of a physician. If signed into law, CNMs will be able to independently provide a full range of primary care services for women in hospitals, clinics, birthing centers, and homes in communities across the state.
“This is a commonsense measure that removes an onerous restriction on women’s access to health care,” Burke concluded.
CNMs already provide primary care services to women, including care during pregnancy and birth. Over 95 percent of the births attended by CNMs take place in hospitals and research shows that the midwifery model of care reduces the risk of cesarean birth and can improve both maternal and infant outcomes.
In 2013, California removed the physician-supervision requirement for licensed midwives, even though they have a lower standard of education and training in comparison to CNMs who are licensed as registered nurses with additional training in midwifery and considered advance practice nurses, along with nurse practitioners, by the Board of Registered Nursing.
AB 1306 passed the Assembly 74-0. It now moves to the Senate.
Assemblywoman Autumn R. Burke represents the 62nd Assembly District, which consists of the cities of Inglewood, Hawthorne, Lawndale, El Segundo, and Gardena as well as the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Westchester, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, Venice, and parts of Del Rey. Additionally, the 62nd Assembly District includes the unincorporated Los Angeles County communities of Del Aire, West Athens, Lennox, Westmont, and Marina del Rey.