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HMPRG Executive Director testifies before Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board

On February 5th, 2013, Health and Medicine Executive Director Margie Schaps testified before the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board about the establishment of a free standing birth center in Illinois. Her full testimony is below:

"My name is Margie Schaps. I am the Executive Director of the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, a policy development, research and advocacy group based in Chicago working to improve health and health systems across Illinois for over 30 years.  I appreciate this opportunity to provide testimony before you today in support of the application of PCC  Community Wellness to establish the first freestanding birth center in Illinois.  This is a historic day….

In 1987 Health and Medicine created the Illinois Birth Center Task Force because we knew of the positive impact birth centers had had in states across the country.  Birth centers were able to provide access to maternity services in geographic regions without any other services, birth centers were able to serve as anchors in urban communities with few resources and provide a vehicle for neighborhood residents to come together to provide a supportive, caring, comprehensive,  and safe environment for the families in the community to have their babies and learn to care for their newborns.  Birth centers were able to provide safe, cost effective care that is culturally and linguistically appropriate, with the most effective providers of care—usually nurse midwives. The cost effectiveness, the safety, the low maternal and infant morbidity and mortality of birth centers had been well established in a study of 10,000 births published in the NEJM.

Nonetheless, as  you all are aware, it took until 2007 for Illinois to pass legislation allowing for birth centers to exist in Illinois, and it took until 2012 for our state to release the rules and regulations that will govern birth centers in our state.

You have the opportunity today to vote in favor of Illinois joining the 36 states that have established successful birth centers.  This is indeed a historic moment where you will vote to allow the women and families served in the PCC Wellness community to have the choice to give birth within their community, by the providers they have come to know and trust  and rely on, and in a manner that will help bend the cost curve of health services, allowing Illinois to appropriately spend its limited health care dollars.

The aims of federal health reform are threefold:
  • Better patient experiences
  • Improved population health
  • Reducing health care costs
Today this committee has the opportunity to vote to establish Illinois’ first freestanding birth center, an opportunity to make real the goals of national and state health reform.

Please vote to allow this program to move forward."