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Report on State of Rural Maternity Care Finds Most Rural Hospitals No Longer Offer Labor & Delivery Services

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The Center for Healthcare Quality & Payment Reform released a report on rural maternity care, finding most rural hospitals in the U.S. no longer offer labor and delivery services. And for the majority of rural areas maternity care is located further away for mothers in rural communities. This leads to a higher risk of complications and death for both mothers and babies in communities that do not have local maternity
care services. Women are less likely to obtain adequate prenatal and postpartum care when it is not available locally.

The report also found that many more rural communities are at risk of losing maternity care because of the financial challenges rural hospitals are facing. More than one-third of the rural hospitals that still have labor & delivery services have been losing money on patient services, so their ability to continue delivering maternity care is at risk.

The report cites the primary reason small rural maternity care hospitals are losing money is that private insurance plans pay them less than what it costs to deliver many types of services to patients, not just maternity care. Although the hospitals are also losing money on uninsured patients and Medicaid patients, the losses from private payers have the biggest impact on their overall profit margins.

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