​​Doula Services as a Medi-Cal Benefit

​The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is adding doula services to the list​​​​​​​​ of preventive services covered under the Medi-Cal program. Doula services include personal support to women and families throughout a woman's pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum experience. This includes emotional and physical support, provided during pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum period. Pursu​ant to federal regulations, doula services must be recommended by a physician or other licensed practitioner. 

DHCS will add doula services as a covered benefit starting July 1, 2022. In order to add these services, DHCS must submit a State Plan Amendment (SPA) to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and receive federal approval. Federal law allows DHCS to add "Preventive Services" to the Medi-Cal State Plan, and DHC intends to amend the State Plan to add doula services under this authority, as recommended by CMS. 

In order to allow for the successful implementation of the doula benefit, DHCS adjusted the launch date from January 1, 2022, to July 1, 2022. This change allows for additional time for DHCS to work with stakeholders and health plans, review their input, incorporate their feedback into the SPA, ensure successful system updates, seek federal approval from CMS, and allow time for health plans to prepare to offer these services.

In preparation for submitting the SPA to add doula services, DHCS is seeking input from stakeholders through virtual meetings and written comments. The next stakeholder meeting is scheduled for 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. February 15, 2022. DHCS also accepts written communication sent via email to DoulaBenefit@dhcs.ca.gov.

Stakeholders are encouraged to comment on the federally required elements to authorize unlicensed providers under Preventive Services of the State Plan, including the following:
  • Doula qualifications to provide services, including any required education, training, experience, credentialing, and/or registration
  • A description of covered services offered by doulas
  • Any amount, duration, and scope limitations
DHCS will also engage with stakeholders to make recommendations on outreach efforts to notify Medi-Cal beneficiaries about doula services, among other topics. 

Doula services will be available in fee-for-service Medi-Cal and through Medi-Cal managed care plans. Beneficiaries in a Medi-Cal managed care plan will receive doula services from their plan. 

Stakeholder Meetings

November 19, 2021, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. (no DHCS presentation given)
February 15, 2022, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
March 29, 2022, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
April 28, 2022, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.​

Resources:

Contact Us

For questions regarding the doula services benefit, please contact DoulaBenefit@dhcs.ca.gov.
Last modified date: 1/14/2022 1:20 PM