I have always accepted Medicaid reimbursement because I believe that every birthing person and their family deserves the care and the birth they want, regardless of income or ability to pay. Unfortunately, accepting an unlimited number Medicaid families has become unsustainable for my practice.
Medicaid has always been a break-even situation at best. In the event of a transfer in labor, I pay to provide care because reimbursement doesn’t cover my out-of-pocket costs. Still, I have continued to accept Medicaid because it simply felt like the right thing to do.
Current Medicaid managed care plans pay 20 to 28% less than Medicaid did twenty years ago while every overhead expense and the cost-of-living has increased. When adjusted for inflation, that amounts to nearly a 50% pay cut.
Medicaid can work for large group practices where the lower rate of reimbursement can be offset but taking on more patients, a business model that is impossible for a small midwifery practice. The level of commitment and the amount of time invested in providing individualized and personal care, the very essence of midwifery, cannot be provided on a large scale.
What can you do? Contact your state representatives and demand change. Contact your managed care plan and demand change.
In the meantime, I am exploring options including a sliding scale system for those who qualify for Medicaid. For now I plan to continue accepting Medicaid on a very limited basis and for established patients. I remain committed to serving families who are also committed to midwifery care.