SPRINGFIELD—As disparities in maternal mortality rates continue to alarm health care professionals and soon-to-be mothers across the state, State Senator Lakesia Collins passed a measure to expand coverage for pregnancy, postpartum and newborn care provided by doulas and midwives.

“Why should mothers have to make the decision between paying their rent, mortgage or car loan, and making sure they and their baby are healthy?” said Collins (D-Chicago). “Women should not have their health decisions limited by whether or not they can afford care. This initiative will impact many women in the state by eliminating the cost-sharing requirements for this care, and end up saving lives.”

Under Collins’ legislation, private insurers would be required to cover all pregnancy, postpartum and newborn care provided by perinatal doulas or licensed certified professional midwives, including home births, home visits and support during labor. Insurance companies would need to cover home visits by board-certified lactation consultants, including the cost of recommended breast pumps, breastfeeding supplies and feeding aids.

The measure would also provide coverage for abortion care without cost-sharing limitations like waiting periods or deductibles, and aims to add coverage for certified professional midwife services for residents with Medicaid starting Jan. 1, 2025. To keep consumer costs from inflating, the legislation allows policy limits to cover up to $8,000 for home visits by a perinatal doula.

“From urban Chicago to rural Southern Illinois, women across every community face unexpected complications during pregnancy, and without the coverage of insurance, are faced with life-threatening situations,” said Collins. “This initiative also addresses disparate health outcomes Black women experience when pregnant, as we are three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related medical conditions as white women. This is a life-or-death issue, and making these health care options more accessible is long overdue.”

House Bill 5142 passed the Senate on Thursday.