Bill would address clinical privileges for midwives

The Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony Jan. 20 on a measure that would prevent denial of credentials to individuals solely based on their classification as certified nurse midwives.

LB68, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Tony Fulton, would add certified nurse midwives to the list of practitioners who cannot be denied clinical privileges based on their credential by any hospital licensed under the Health Care Facility Licensure Act.

Fulton said certified nurse midwives who have a practice agreement with a supervising physician may practice midwifery at the physician’s office or at a facility where they have been granted privileges. However, there appear to be cases where midwives have been denied privileges at hospitals for no other reason than belonging to the category of certified nurse midwife, he said.

Heather Swanson, a certified nurse midwife from Wilcox, testified in support of the bill, saying some hospitals refuse to grant privileges to midwives as a way to control the practice of midwifery. The Norfolk hospital where she had hoped to practice closed the category of certified nurse midwife for credentialing, she said, causing her to leave Nebraska.

“I’m still waiting for statutory changes that will allow me to practice here,” she said. “This bill is needed and is overdue.”

Gail Consoli, a certified nurse midwife in Norfolk, also supported the bill. Having already been granted privileges at the Norfolk hospital before it closed the category to midwives, Consoli said she was allowed to retain them.

“I was grandmothered in,” she said.

Consoli said she delivers approximately 19 percent of the babies born at the hospital, and worries what will happen to those who would like access to a midwife when she retires.

It’s a concern shared by Autumn Cook, a member of Nebraska Friends of Midwives.

Cook said the Norfolk situation is the best example of the flawed current law, by which access to midwives can be arbitrarily denied by hospitals.

“The demand for midwives is continuing to grow all over the U.S. and in Nebraska,” she said. “This law will help Nebraskans access the kind of care that they want.”

No opposition testimony was given and the committee took no immediate action on LB68.

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