Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health
Volume 42, Number 2, June (preview) 2010

Medicaid Funding for Abortion: Providers' Experiences with Cases Involving Rape, Incest and Life Endangerment

By Deborah Kacanek, Amanda Dennis, Kate Miller and Kelly Blanchard

CONTEXT: The Hyde Amendment bans federal Medicaid funding for abortion in the United States except if a pregnancy resulted from rape or incest or endangers the life of the woman. Some evidence suggests that providers do not always receive Medicaid reimbursement for abortions that should qualify for funding.

METHODS: From October 2007 to February 2008, semistructured in-depth interviews about experiences with Medicaid reimbursement for qualifying abortions were conducted with 25 respondents representing abortion providers in six states. A thematic analysis approach was used to explore respondents' knowledge of and experiences seeking Medicaid reimbursement for qualifying abortions, as well as individual, clinical and structural influences on reimbursement. The numbers of qualifying cases that were and were not reimbursed were assessed.

RESULTS: More than half of Medicaid-eligible cases reported by respondents in the past year were not reimbursed. Respondents reported that filing for reimbursement takes excessive staff time and is hampered by bureaucratic claims procedures and ill-informed Medicaid staff, and that reimbursements are small. Many had stopped seeking Medicaid reimbursement and relied on nonprofit abortion funds to cover procedure costs. Respondents reporting receiving reimbursement said that streamlined forms, a statewide education intervention and a legal intervention to ensure that Medicaid reimbursed claims facilitated the process.

CONCLUSIONS: The policy governing federal funding of abortion is inconsistently implemented. Eliminating administrative burdens, educating providers about women's rights to obtain Medicaid reimbursement for abortion in certain circumstances and holding Medicaid accountable for reimbursing qualifying cases are among the steps that may facilitate Medicaid reimbursement for qualifying abortions.




Deborah Kacanek is assistant professor (research) in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, and at the time of this study was senior associate at Ibis Reproductive Health, Cambridge, MA. Amanda Dennis is project manager, Kate Miller is consultant and Kelly Blanchard is president, all at Ibis Reproductive Health.