Medicaid Prenatal Care:

States Improve Access and Enhance Services, but Face New Challenges

HEHS-94-152BR: Published: May 10, 1994. Publicly Released: May 19, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed whether: (1) states are using Medicaid to improve access to prenatal care services and enhance services to low-income women and the reported effect that could have on birth weight and infant mortality; and (2) lessons have been learned about providing care for underserved populations that Congress should consider as it weighs health care reform.

GAO found that: (1) since 1986, many states have used Medicaid to improve access and enhance prenatal care services for women, but states will face challenges in improving outcomes in the new health care environment; (2) enhanced services for Medicaid women have improved birth outcomes; (3) Medicaid managed care has had quality and access problems in the past; (4) if states want to improve infant health, they must focus on making managed care plans accountable for improving the health of the enrolled population; and (5) health care reform could bring changes in financing that could limit states' abilities to maintain enhanced services.

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