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Half of states report 50 percent or more of births financed by Medicaid

New Mexico reported the highest number of births financed by Medicaid at 72 percent; New Hampshire was the lowest at 27 percent.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Half of the states in the country reported that 50 percent or more of births were financed by Medicaid, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report that requested the figures in 2016.

New Mexico reported the highest number of births financed by Medicaid, at 72 percent in 2015.

New Hampshire was the lowest at 27 percent, in numbers reported in 2015.

Eight states said that 60 percent or more of births were financed by Medicaid. These were Arkansas at 67 percent, Louisiana at 65 percent, Mississippi at 64 percent, Nevada at 64 percent, Oklahoma 60 percent, South Carolina at 60 percent, and Wisconsin at 64 percent.

The Kaiser report gave no analysis for the figures, nor comparisons to previous years or prior to implementation of the Affordable Care Act that expanded Medicaid to populations not previously served.

Hospitals are paid less by Medicaid than commercial insurance to the point that some providers say the reimbursement does not cover the cost.

Recently a comment by the Mayo Clinic CEO on prioritizing commercially insured patients over those paying by Medicare and Medicaid was seen as controversial, but the Mayo Clinic and CEO John Noseworthy said essentially that balancing payer mix is a hard reality for providers, representing the difference between a positive or negative bottom line. Mayo also reiterated that patient need always comes first.

[Also: Mayo Clinic admits need to grow commercial payers to balance payer mix, subsidize underinsured]

Prior to the ACA and the expansion of Medicaid, the cost of uncompensated care was higher at hospitals that later got the benefit of being in a Medicaid expansion state.

Uncompensated care costs remained flat among hospitals in states that did not expand Medicaid, but declined in hospitals in expansion states, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report from 2016.

[Also: Vice President Pence's home state Indiana moves to keep Medicaid expansion]

The American Health Care Act, which was pulled last Friday due to lack of votes needed for the GOP healthcare plan to pass, would have repealed Medicaid expansion in the ACA, a move that concerned numerous provider groups.

[Also: Republicans roll back Medicaid expansion, pitch tax credits in bill to replace the Affordable Care Act]

In the recent report on births, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported nine states had a percent of births at greater than 50 percent: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas.

Seven states reported 50 percent of births financed by Medicaid: California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, Rhode Island and South Dakota.

The District of Columbia and 24 states reported less than 50 percent but greater than 40 percent of births were financed by Medicaid. These included Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, , Vermont,  Washington and West Virginia.

States below 40 percent included Wyoming, Virginia, Utah, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Nebraska and Iowa.

The report used state data from 2013 to 2016, with the exception of Alabama, where the figures were from 2010, and Delaware, which reported data from 2012. No information was available from Hawaii.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse

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