Steps to becoming reimbursable through Medicaid as a birth doula in Oregon
During interviews with doulas, we consistently heard that:
- Getting on the traditional health worker state registry is difficult, time-consuming and sometimes discouraging.
- The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) does not provide very much support.
- Some doulas thought that once they got on the registry, they would be able to bill for their work. In reality, getting on the registry is only the first step.
- Many doulas do not know how to go through the billing process and therefore are not getting paid for their work. Some coordinated care organizations (CCOs) cannot and do not provide billing support.
- To figure out the process described below, doulas relied on others to guide them. Some people wished that the OHA would produce a booklet of tips or offer assistance through coordinated Zoom calls.
We pulled together a list of steps, links and tips that we gathered during our reporting process to help future THW birth doulas:
1. Apply to become a certified traditional health worker (THW) birth doula.
You must be a certified THW birth doula to get reimbursed through Medicaid. This will require patience, time and paperwork. Although the OHA does not charge an application fee, certain aspects of this process may cost money.
If you are not a doula but would like to become one, be sure to review the OHA’s training requirements. If you are already a practicing birth doula, make sure you’ve met all of the OHA’s THW birth doula training requirements, which include becoming CPR-certified, completing an oral health training, attending a cultural competency training and more. The OHA also requires a background check.
Once you are certified, it will last three years and your name and contact information will be listed on the Oregon traditional health worker registry. Prospective clients can search for you by name, location and race/ethnicity on this site. After three years, you must apply for recertification, which requires at at least 20 hours of continuing education.
Links to more resources:
2. Obtain a national provider identifier (NPI).
Health care providers in the United States use NPIs for various reasons. You will need an NPI to bill Oregon Health Plan or your local CCO for your doula services. You can register for an NPI for free.
3. Enroll as an Oregon Medicaid provider.
Go to this website and scroll down to “OHA enrollment forms,” then type “doula” in the search function (or click here and wait for the page to load). If you are an independent THW birth doula, there are two forms to fill out. There are separate forms listed for doula billing organizations. If you are stuck, email this address: Provider.ENROLLMENT@dhsoha.state.or.us
4. Prep yourself on how to submit claims to OHA directly (for clients who have OHP “open cards”; otherwise known as fee-for-service) or to your local CCO.
When you reach this step, technically you can start taking Medicaid clients and bill for your services. However, billing is complicated, and if you’re unfamiliar with the system, you may want to consider following these tips:
5. Find an avenue to work with Medicaid clients as a doula.
If you wish to work as an independent doula, don’t forget to ask your THW liaison questions along the way. Your peers may be willing to help you, too.
If you want additional support, know that doula hubs are forming across the state. Typically, one or two designated people handle administrative tasks, such as billing and contracting with a CCO. Click here to find a list of doula hubs in Oregon.
Last updated: Dec. 29, 2020
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