TennCare will no longer pay extra for cesarian sections, starting this summer. In part that’s to save the state money, but TennCare also hopes it will cut the incentive for a c-section, saying too many are done voluntarily.
The change is expected to save the state more than $9 million.
Some have criticized the shift, saying it could reduce the number of obstetricians willing to work with patients on TennCare. They say that could undermine care for women in labor, in a state already struggling with high infant mortality.
But TennCare’s chief medical officer, Dr. Wendy Long, isn’t buying it, calling that argument “very hypothetical.” If anything, Long says allowing too many elective c-sections is the real danger.
“Elective c-sections have been demonstrated over and over in the literature to increase the odds that you’re delivering a baby pre-term – earlier than the baby should be delivered. You’re not waiting for nature to take its course, and pre-term births are probably the single largest contributor to the infant mortality rate.”
Long points out that while doing away with the higher payment for c-sections, the state also raised its base rate for deliveries across the board. The new policy takes effect this month.