Canberra provides ‘100%’ guarantee to plug midwives PI gap
The Federal Government will pay “100% of any eligible and approved” professional indemnity (PI) insurance claims made in relation to intrapartum care provided outside of a hospital setting by privately practicing midwives.
Midwives have been in a limbo after the Government was made aware in October of a gap in PI coverage for provision of early labour care to mothers-to-be who are planning a hospital birth.
The Government says medical indemnity insurer MIGA will now amend its policies to cover the services for endorsed midwives with individual insurance after “extensive” engagement.
“The Government will support these changes by providing an indemnity to MIGA so that the Government will pay 100% of any eligible and approved claims made in respect of these intrapartum, outside of hospital services for a midwife with an individual policy with MIGA,” the Government said in a statement.
“Cover will be available retrospectively for this service dated from October 17 2023, irrespective of whether the endorsed midwife already holds a policy with MIGA or now applies for one.”
With the arrangement reached with MIGA, midwives can resume delivering care to women who labour in their home before a planned birth in hospital.
“The Albanese Government recognises that midwifery continuity of care is incredibly important and has the best outcomes for women and babies and we will continue to work to make sure that it is accessible and supported,” Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler said.
“We acknowledge that this has disrupted the birth plans of expectant parents during a highly emotional and significant time, and that this disruption has no doubt caused concern and disappointment.”
Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney says the measure means “women can get the support they want and have a midwife at home in the early stages of labour”.
“Midwives play a pivotal role in our health system when it comes to maternity care. This outcome makes sure midwives are protected to provide their expert care to women who need it.”
However, industry stakeholder Homebirth Australia has given a muted response to the Government measure.
“It’s so frustrating that the government is celebrating this announcement as a win,” Kristyn Begnell, spokesperson for the peak body, told insuranceNEWS.com.au.
“They should be supportive of innovative maternity care, which is proven to have the best outcomes, rather than driving private midwifery practices out of business with increasing premiums and no government subsidies.
“This insurance debacle has been ongoing for years and started under a Labor government. Passing the buck does no one any favours, least of all the women who will suffer the most from the lack of affordable continuity of midwifery carer.”