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The request from the Sununu Administration to use $252,000 in federal pandemic funding to offset the expense of premium hikes for birthing facilities and home birth midwives was granted by the New Hampshire Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee.
Increases in premiums are “putting the continued operation of the centers at risk,” according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. This is because the facilities are required to have malpractice insurance in order to receive Medicaid reimbursement or enter into commercial provider contracts.
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In addition to the fact that the existing Medicaid reimbursement rates are much lower than actual facility costs, state officials have stated that the rising cost of malpractice insurance causes a “major hardship to the centers and to at-home midwives.”
The department noted one facility that reported an increase in its premium of 250 percent, which is equivalent to more than 40,000 dollars. It was stated that this increase, along with others, is related to increased utilization throughout the COVID-19 health crisis. This is due to the fact that more families are opting not to give birth in a hospital setting.
According to the plan, service providers would be eligible for a reimbursement of up to sixty percent of any increase in the premium they pay.
The state’s portion of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding would be utilized to cover the costs of the program (ARPA). There would be no use of any public monies at all.
The funds, which would be accessible until June of the following year, is still awaiting the Executive Council’s approval before it can be used.
A second bill to raise the Medicaid reimbursement rate for birthing facilities and midwives was signed into law by Governor Chris Sununu in the month of August. This was the first time in some years that this had occurred.
The New Hampshire Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee agreed to the Sununu Administration’s request to use $252,000 in federal pandemic aid to cover the cost of premium increases for birthing centers and home birth midwives.
The state Department of Health and Human Services said that higher premiums are “putting the centers’ ability to keep running at risk.” This is because the centers need malpractice insurance to get paid by Medicaid or to sign contracts with commercial providers.
State officials said that the rising cost of malpractice insurance is a “significant hardship” for both centers and midwives who work in people’s homes. At the same time, Medicaid reimbursement rates are much lower than the actual costs of running a center.
The department pointed to one center that said its premium went up by 250%, which is more than $40,000. It said that this increase and others are caused by more people using health care services because of the COVID-19 health crisis and the fact that more families are choosing not to have their babies in hospitals.
Under the plan, providers could get up to 60% of their premium increase back.
The state’s share of money from the federal American Rescue Plan Act would be used (ARPA). There would be no use of state money.
The money would be available until June of next year, but the Executive Council still needs to approve it.
In August, Gov. Chris Sununu signed a separate bill that, for the first time in a few years, raised the Medicaid reimbursement rate for birthing centers and midwives.