New policy targets infant mortality rate in Indiana

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - A new Medicaid policy is aimed at reducing the Infant Mortality Rate in Indiana. According to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA), Indiana has the 6th highest rate in the nation.

The new policy will take effect July 1, 2014. Women will no longer be able to have Medicaid pay for an elected early delivery before 39 weeks which is one week short of full term. However, premature births that happen naturally or for medical reasons are not included under the policy.

OB/GYNs have said early elective childbirths aren’t that common. Dr. Tom Stafford is the Medical Director at Neighborhood Health Clinics and has been an OB/GYN for 39 years. He said he doesn’t see many of his Medicaid patients at the clinic request early deliveries. However, through his experience, he said mothers will normally choose the early option if they’re uncomfortable and want to give birth as soon as possible, or in some special cases, a mother will want to give birth before her military spouse is deployed.

Representatives with FSSA said delivering a baby too early increases the chance of death or serious health issues. Dr. Stafford agreed the policy is a good step in decreasing the infant mortality rate in the state.

“Maybe she thought she was full term or unsure of when she is due, then you risk delivering a baby that is early or premature that’s going to have to spend some time in the premature nursery and increased expense, increased risks,” Dr. Stafford said.

The Indiana Hospital Association said early elective deliveries currently stand at three percent as opposed to 11 percent in 2012.

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