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Recent Report: Over Half of Rural Hospitals Cease Maternity Services

Sarah Jones

Feb 5, 2024

Financial struggles force rural hospitals to halt Labor and delivery care, increasing risks for pregnant women

A recent report by the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform (CHQPR) reveals that over half of rural hospitals in the United States no longer provide labor and delivery services, and financial challenges may force many others to discontinue maternity care. In the past decade, more than 200 rural hospitals ceased delivering babies, with 55% of such hospitals currently lacking maternity services. Financial difficulties in staffing 24/7 maternity care and inadequate payments from private and Medicare sources contribute to this decline. The report emphasizes the increased risk for pregnant women in rural areas, who must travel longer distances for delivery, leading to higher complications and mortality rates. To address the crisis, CHQPR recommends addressing recruitment challenges, improving payment structures, and urging employers and states to pressure health insurance and Medicaid plans to adequately cover maternity care services. The report concludes that immediate action is essential to prevent unnecessary maternal and infant deaths in rural areas.

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