INDIANAPOLIS | Indiana's Medicaid program no longer will pay the hospital or physician costs for births prior to 39 weeks gestation, unless medically necessary or occurring naturally.
The Family and Social Services Administration on Monday announced the payment policy change, which takes effect July 1, aimed at preventing the increased health risks and expenses associated with early elective deliveries and reducing Indiana's infant mortality rate, among the highest in the nation.
"This action sends a strong and clear message that we will not tolerate dangerous and unnecessary early childbirths, which puts our newborns at risk and increases costs in Medicaid," said Joe Moser, state Medicaid director.
The change makes Indiana the fourth state to bar Medicaid payment for planned early births. About 3 percent of mothers opted for early elective deliveries in 2013, down from 11 percent in 2012, according to the Indiana Hospital Association.
"Babies' brains develop significantly during the last two weeks of gestation, which is why it's critically important to carry pregnancies full-term, unless medically necessary to induce sooner," said Dr. William VanNess, state health commissioner. "This policy supports providing infants with the best chance to grow into healthy children."
About half of Hoosier births are paid for through Medicaid.