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Report on reforms to professional indemnity insurance and prescribing powers of midwives

A Senate Committee report supports changes which would allow: (1) midwives and nurse practitioners to access the Medicare Benefits Schedule and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and (2) the Commonwealth to provide affordable professional indemnity insurance to eligible privately practicing midwives.

However the indemnity arrangements, as proposed, will not apply to homebirth midwives. The legislation will then intersect with the National Health Registration legislation (a separate Bill) which will require all health professionals to hold indemnity insurance as a condition of registration. An unintended consequence of this may be to drive homebirths underground unless an exemption is granted or an insurance product found. The Government is currently investigating indemnity options for homebirths that could be progressed without making the insurance unaffordable.

Report (17/08/09) from Australia. Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs