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Percentage of Medicaid funded births by state analyzed for the first time

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Medicaid funded births vary widely by state according to new analysis.

A new analysis shows Medicaid funds almost half of births in the United States. In 2010, 45 percent of deliveries were paid for by Medicaid and that figure is continuing to rise.

The study, published in the September 2013 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Women’s Health Issues is the first comprehensive look at Medicaid spending related to child birth and the impact of health care reform related to access to services for women.

Anne Markus, JD, PhD, MHS, an associate professor of health policy at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) said in a press release: “As states expand coverage, low-income women of childbearing age will be able to obtain more continuous coverage before and between pregnancies.”

She adds having access to a data base can help researchers determine how access to services changes birth outcomes and how it might change pregnancies.

Markus worked in conjunction with the March of Dimes to collect the data. The analysis showed an increase in the number of births paid for by Medicaid from 2008 when Medicaid covered births was 43 percent.

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Tracking Medicaid funded births could also same money in the long-run.

The study authors note that better birth outcomes from pre-conception health care and between pregnancies would result in shorter hospital stays and fewer complications.

"This study gives us a window into the vital role Medicaid plays in maternal and child health," said study co-author Cynthia Pellegrini, senior vice president for public policy and government affairs at the March of Dimes. "With these data in hand, we'll be able to accurately monitor the impact of Medicaid expansion and other factors on the births covered by state Medicaid programs."

Key findings from the study showed:

• There was a wide variance among states. In Hawaii just one-four of births were paid for by Medicaid, but in Louisiana the state funded 70 percent of births.
• States in the northeastern and northwestern United States have the lowest proportion of births financed by Medicaid.
• Southern states had the highest Medicaid funded births.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons