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States Move to Reduce Early Elective Deliveries, Urged on by Public Reporting

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In 2010, The Leapfrog Group first publicly reported rates of early elective deliveries by hospital. That year, the national average rate was 17%. But that public reporting accelerated longstanding efforts by a network of organizations working to eliminate unnecessary deliveries, including the Catalyst for Payment Reform, the National Business Group on Health and the March of Dimes. At the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, both the Partnership for Patients Program and the Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns Initiative identified early elective deliveries as a top priority issue early in 2012, and have both aligned their resources to achieving these results.

Tremendous progress has been recorded over the past 6 years. From 2010 to 2016, the national rate declined to just 1.9% – well below the standard set by Leapfrog of 5%. The vast majority of states are now reporting early elective delivery average rates of less than 10 percent. Dramatic improvements from states like South Carolina were precipitated by payment reform penalties enacted by government and private sector stakeholders to discourage the practice of early elective deliveries. In other states, local coalitions were instrumental in leading the charge. In Illinois, the Midwest Business Group on Health spearheaded their own “Preventing Early Elective Deliveries” project, which effectively reduced the state rate from 22% in 2010 to 2% in 2015.

Despite nationwide and statewide successes, widespread variation still exists. Some hospitals are still reporting early elective delivery rates higher than 20 and 30 percent, as The Leapfrog Group reports, there is still work to be done.

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