NWA Birth Center a Labor of Love

by Serenah McKay  on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 8:30 am  

By comparison, in the U.K., where nurse midwifery is the standard of care, the C-section rate is around 10 percent, Osborne said.

Overall, health outcomes in outpatient maternity centers surpass traditional models of care, Osborne and Bedore say. These centers also have much lower overhead than a hospital, they pointed out.

Birth Centers of America LLC is the parent company of the Rogers birth center and its affiliated women’s wellness services, which have nonprofit status. The practice will be governed by an eight-person board of directors that already has been selected.

A for-profit side to the business was necessary to handle activities like classes and the sale of birth-related items such as breast pumps and maternity clothes, Osborne said.

“As a business model, it’s self-sustaining, not something that needs ongoing donations,” she said. They expect insurer payments to cover the center’s operating expenses.

Although birth center fee reimbursement is mandated by federal law, Bedore and Osborne have been working with both Medicaid and Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield for about nine months to get a reimbursement number. Sixty percent of Northwest Arkansas births are paid for by Medicaid, with the remaining 40 percent covered mostly by ABCBS.

“Both ABCBS and Medicaid have publicly and together asked for higher-quality outcomes with lower-cost alternatives for the perinatal episode,” meaning prenatal care and labor and delivery, Bedore said. “The birth center fits what the governor and ABCBS have been asking for, yet our team has not been able to get a reimbursement number.”

Steve Spaulding, vice president of enterprise networks at ABCBS in Little Rock, said he couldn’t comment on the center’s application for a reimbursement number other than to say it’s still in the review process.

State Medicaid director Andy Allison has been in budget hearings at the Capitol and unavailable for comment, a spokesman for his office said.

Under Arkansas’ Health Care Payment Improvement Initiative, begun last year, Osborne said Medicaid, ABCBS and Arkansas QualChoice “have all come together to say, ‘We’re addressing costs and health care in the state of Arkansas, and here are the various ways we’re doing it.’

“And one of the ways is to incentivize innovative care models. So this is totally in line with their conceptual drivers in terms of where they’d like to see health care in the state go.”




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