Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/20/2004 02:04 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 349-MIDWIFERY BIRTH CENTER LICENSING CHAIR CON BUNDE announced SB 349 to be up for consideration. MS. MYRA PUGH, staff to Senator Bettye Davis, sponsor, explained that currently there are six birth centers in Alaska; five more are registered and one is licensed. The owners, who are certified direct entry and certified nurse midwives, unanimously concluded they need to have one license standard for all birth centers. CHAIR BUNDE asked if in other enterprises that involve the Division of Licensing, the licensees have to bear the cost of licensing and if that was the case now. MS. PUGH replied that is the case, but wanted the department to verify that. MS. JUDY DAVIDSON, owner and operator, Mat-Su Midwifery, said she does over 100 births per year. We feel this bill is very appropriate in that it would license us for doing what licensed care providers are already doing. We would prefer to be licensed rather than registered and [to] adhere to a single standard. MS. KATHRYN PIATT, owner, Frontier Midwifery, said she serves a large section of outlying communities and agreed that having one licensed birth center is a good idea so that the standard of care is consistent all over the state. SENATOR GARY STEVENS asked how many births per year happen at her facility. MS. PIATT replied about 25, but another birth center in Soldotna does that many, as well. MS. KELLY DESIEYES, Women's Way Midwifery, said having a consistent standard would not only help the birth centers, but also the families they serve. She supported SB 349. MS. BARBARA NORTON, Geneva Woods Birth Center, supported SB 349 for the reasons previously stated. MS. DANA BROWN, Fairbanks, said she is the director of a non- profit birth center that also serves outlying Bush communities in the Interior and that she supported SB 349. Licensing will make a better standard for birth centers throughout the state and will continue to advance midwifery, which the public really wants. MS. KAY KANNE, Executive Director, Juneau Family Birth Center, said she sat on the board of Certified Direct Entry Midwives from its inception in 1992 until 2000. She is also the volunteer lobbyist for the Midwives Association of Alaska. She gave the committee background on how two kinds of birth centers came about in Alaska - registered and licensed. This happened back in 1992 when we passed our original legislation to create a board of Certified Direct Entry Midwives for licensure. We also went back to the Health and Social Services law and changed the line...where it said, 'The commissioner shall adopt regulations for the registration of lay midwifery in the State of Alaska.' Well, we no longer needed that because we were going to be licensed by the Division of Occupational Licensing. So, we changed that line to address one of our other concerns, which was the fact that the birth center regulations at the time stated that only a physician or a nurse midwife could attend births in a birth center. So, basically we changed the line to say 'the registration of birth centers' and then we changed the wording to say that 'The commissioner shall not require that a physician or nurse midwife be present at a birth', accidentally leaving the word 'registered' in instead of changing it to 'licensed'. We didn't notice that until we went back after the law was passed and the Department said, 'Oh, we can't change these regulations for licensed birth centers. What you've done is create a whole different kind of birth center. So, that's how it happened in 1992. It was never intended.... CHAIR BUNDE asked if anyone opposes this bill. Someone indicated no. SENATOR FRENCH moved to pass SB 349 from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note. CHAIR BUNDE objected only to get clarification that the registration will in deed be handled like other licensing and actually pay for itself. He asked for the roll. Senators Ralph Seekins, Hollis French, Gary Stevens, Bettye Davis and Chair Con Bunde voted yea; and SB 349 moved from committee.