Australia's health ministers on Friday agreed to extend the existing insurance exemption for midwives in private practice for two years. It was due to expire in mid-2013.
Midwives have been able to access government-supported insurance since 2010 because insurers wouldn't offer them products. But it doesn't cover the delivery of babies in the home.
Federal and state health ministers, meeting in Sydney, agreed to the extension while asking Western Australia to "develop a paper on longer-term arrangements".
That paper will be presented to the next ministerial meeting in November.
The health ministers on Friday also agreed to change the existing rules which require midwives to work in collaboration with doctors.
They'll now be able to enter agreements with "hospital and health services" as well.
That move will be welcomed by midwives who have long argued the current determination effectively gave doctors a veto over midwives.
But doctors are outraged, with the Australian Medical Association (AMA) labelling the decision "dangerous and unexpected".
"If the commonwealth proceeds with today's decision it will be essentially allowing independent practice by a midwife," AMA president Steve Hambleton said in a statement.
"When the collaborative care arrangements were being developed it was agreed the midwife could have an agreement with a doctor in a hospital who would ensure appropriate care arrangements were in place.
"This decision is transferring sensitive patient care and management from a doctor to a bureaucrat.
"It must not proceed."