“Rural Hospitals Are Shutting Down Their Delivery Rooms”

“About 500,000 women give birth each year in rural hospitals, yet access to labor and delivery units has been declining. Comprehensive figures are spotty, but an analysis of 306 rural hospitals in nine states with large rural populations found that 7.2 percent closed their obstetrics units between 2010 and 2014…
obstetrics units are expensive to operate, and a small rural hospital may deliver fewer than 100 babies a year… bringing in the revenue needed to cover the costs involved in maintaining the units can be difficult because insurance payments are often low. Medicaid pays for slightly under half of all births in the United States, but in rural areas the proportion is often higher, said Kozhimannil. Since Medicaid pays about half as much as private insurance for childbirth, “the financial aspect of keeping a labor and delivery unit open is harder in rural areas,” she said…
Kozhimannil sees great opportunity in the ongoing national dialogue about health reform but says much of the research to date has focused on reforming health care in urban settings.
“That’s why it’s crucial to have rural people at the table,” she said.”
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