Bill introduced to create scholarship program for Michigan doulas


Soraya Marashi


A bill that would establish a scholarship program for Michigan birth doulas was introduced to the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee on Oct. 13th.


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Senate Bill 1196, introduced by Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), would create the program and would be administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). The scholarship would be eligible for an individual, determined by MDHHS, who demonstrates a financial hardship and completes a signed application stating their intent to become a doula in Michigan. 

Scholarship awardees are eligible for up to $3,000 and are required to provide MDHHS documentation that the individual is serving as a doula, is working toward certification, or has received certification no more than 6 months after receiving the award.

MDHHS is charged with awarding the scholarships, promulgating the rules necessary for implementation, publicizing the availability of the scholarship program in partnership with universities, nonprofits, and other entities, and identifying programs that provide certification in consultation with doulas that work under a community-based model.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee for its initial hearing.

The bill represents just one of the efforts the state is taking to improve access to maternal and infant health. The 2023 budget includes $1.2 million for the expansion of Healthy Moms Healthy Babies maternal and infant health programs to provide professional doula care services for pregnant women, new mothers, and their families.

Michigan Medicaid is also about to launch an effort to begin reimbursing for doula services provided to individuals covered by or eligible for Medicaid in 2023. 

The proposal to reimburse Medicaid-eligible individuals for doula services includes provisions to cover community-based, prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum services when recommended by a licensed healthcare provider. 

The proposed payment rate for prenatal and postnatal visits is $75 per visit, and visits must be at least 20 minutes in duration. For labor and delivery visits, the proposed payment rate is $700. Under MDHHS’s proposal, the services can be provided via telehealth and will cover a maximum of 6 visits with the potential to cover additional visits through prior authorization. 

MDHHS has also said that these services will be reimbursed through the department for Medicaid fee-for-service beneficiaries and through the Medicaid Health Plans (MHPs) for beneficiaries enrolled in an MHP. 

Childbirth education, lactation support, and counseling will be covered separately from doula services.

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association, in support of this proposal, stated

“The MHA supports this proposal and agrees with the MDHHS statement that the policy will improve birth outcomes, address social determinants of health, and decrease health and racial disparities for Medicaid beneficiaries.”

MDHHS stopped accepting comments about this proposal on Nov. 1st.