Medicaid Birth Center Reimbursement Act Introduced

Aug 26, 2010 |
In The News,  |
Kellie Moeller, CNM |

Bill’s aim is to preserve Medicaid payments for birth centers

WASHINGTON – Birth centers are part of a vital safety net for many pregnant women across the country. However, over the past few years, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has begun disallowing federal matching funds for state Medicaid payments for freestanding birth center facility fees.

U.S. Reps. Susan Davis (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Lois Capps (D-CA) and Rob Wittman (R-VA) have introduced the Medicaid Birth Center Reimbursement Act to ensure Medicaid birth center facility fee payments to states.

“So many women and their newborns rely on these birth centers for the health care services,” said Davis. “This bill would ensure continued access for women for whom, in many cases, this is their only access to these health care services.”

"Birth centers offer vital health care alternatives for mothers across the country, particularly in my home state of Florida,” said Bilirakis “This bill will ensure that birth centers remain open and continue to provide access to quality pregnancy services.”

Birth centers have been recognized by CMS (and earlier, by HCFA) as a Medicaid provider type in State Medicaid Plans since 1987. Recently, however, CMS has disallowed such payment by several state Medicaid Agencies, including Alaska, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington State, claiming that it lacks clear statutory authority and direction to allow these payments. CMS has therefore directed its regional offices to stop federal payments to any state for birth center services, even though these payments have in many cases been part of the reimbursement structure for years.

A recent decision by a federal administrative judge ruled against birth centers in a Texas Medicaid case, stating that CMS is not required to pay any state their federal match for birth center facility fees. Without payment of the birth center facility fees, birth centers in all states could be pushed to the brink of closure.

Visit AABC's Legislative Alerts to learn how you can help this bill become law.

Blog Posted: Aug 26, 2010
Posted by: Kellie Moeller, CNM
HomeBirth Experience Inc.
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