By Amie Newman, Managing Editor
Maternity care is big business in the United States. We’re talking $86 billion big. With that kind of investment, you’d think women and their newborn babes in this country would be entering the postpartum recovery period universally healthy and happy after being well cared for throughout pregnancy and birth. Unfortunately, the return on investment for maternity care is poor. The U.S. spends more on health care than most – a staggering amount per person in fact - yet lags far behind when it comes to maternal and newborn health and mortality indicators. The United States ranks 41st out of 171 countries when it comes to our maternal mortality rates. So it makes sense that stakeholders from health care advocates and providers to hospital and insurance company executives, but most importantly women themselves, would want to ensure a much better return-on-investment for maternity care in this country, right?
Unfortunately, what has constituted success in terms of a greater ROI among these various stakeholders has not always been uniform. Where women are growing weary of the increase in unnecessary medical interventions during childbirth that only increase costs and the chance of poorer health outcomes, doctors have taken to routinely encouraging and performing unnecessary c-sections at an exponential rate to keep malpractice claims lower but also because our health care system’s “global fee” method of payment for in-hospital birth promotes a one-size-fits-all type of care which does not lend itself well to vaginal birth but does increase a hospital’s profit; where insurance companies and Medicaid do not provide homebirth coverage across the country, which would bring overall maternity care costs down (for insurance companies, states, those insured and tax-payers across the board), Medicaid funds almost half of all hospital births.
It is precisely because of these issues and more that a team of over 100 national leaders in maternity care, led by maternity care advocacy organization Childbirth Connection, convened two and a half years ago to come up with a shared vision and an action plan for change.
“It was time to act and we called upon key leaders across the health care system to develop a long-term vision for the future of maternity care in the United States,” said Maureen Corry, Childbirth Connection’s Executive Director. The results of this multi-year meeting-of-the-minds, the Transforming Maternity Care Project, are two key reports released today, “2020 Vision For A High-Quality High-Value Maternity Care System” and “Blueprint For Action.”
As we move forward, towards reform of our overall health care system, the problems and solutions identified in these two reports are key to fixing our broken maternity care system and may help birth an entirely new system…