Friday, October 9, 2009

What Does Rationing of Maternity Care Look Like?

Critics of healthcare reform say, that it will lead to healthcare rationing. It should be noted that rationing takes many forms, such as: long waits for care, denial of procedures, and forced cheaper alternatives (ie; generic drugs, etc). Belfast, Northern Ireland, which has totally "FREE" healthcare, faces a major budget deficit. and all departments are required to enact cost saving measures. The maternity hospital has decided to send women home between 6 and 12 hours after having a baby. Click here to read, October 6, 2009 BBC article. Interestingly, the article notes that there is NO medical reason why a woman, after normal birth, cannot go home after six hours, assuming NO complications. Rather, they argue that the new mom either; needs rest, breast-feeding support or instructions in parenting skills. It was only about a dozen years ago that the Kennedy-Kassebaum law, forbade early discharges for maternity care. Prior to that, insurance companies were pushing hospitals for what was known as: drive-through deliveries (deliver and out next day). On the other hand, laws and standards for birth centers in the United States allow a mother to go home after a approximately 4-6 hours, assuming NO complications. In many jurisdictions, stays longer than 24 hours are prohibited, without medical cause. So, is the Belfast model an aberration, caused by the financial requirements of socialized healthcare? OR, is it a futuristic model, for better birthing care? Have a great weekend. Alan


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