Report finds a majority of rural Iowa hospitals don’t deliver babies

DES MOINES — A report by the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform finds 61% of Iowa’s rural hospitals no longer deliver babies. The report analyzed federal data and also found that of the 36 rural hospitals still providing the care, 58% reported losing money on the service.

The CEO of the non-profit Harold Miller says insurance companies and Medicaid need to reimburse hospitals more for the cost of births. “We’ve suggested that they also need to pay differently. Rather than simply paying for each birth, they need to be paying the hospital to be able to support the availability of the appropriate staff to do that,” he says.

Miller says it’s really hard to reopen the birthing units once they close. “So it’s really important to try to prevent more of them from closing now. And with the warning signs that this indicates that this problem is growing right now,” Miller says.

Miller says policymakers also need to find ways to recruit and train more people to work in rural health care.