The introduction of separate payment for the immediate postpartum implantation of long-acting reversible contraception was associated with increased use and a slow-down in the number of short-interval births in patients covered by South Carolina’s Medicaid program.
Immediate postpartum long-acting reversible contraception (IPP-LARC) is recommended to reduce the incidence of short pregnancy intervals – pregnancies within 6-24 months of each other. The global payment for hospital labor and delivery, however, may act as a disincentive to providing IPP-LARC, according to Maria W. Steenland of Brown University, Providence, R.I., and co-authors.
They looked at inpatient Medicaid claims data for 242,825 childbirth hospitalizations in South Carolina from 2010-2017; during that time the state Medicaid program began to provide an additional payment for IPP-LARC.
At the start of the study, just 0.07% of women received an IPP-LARC. After the change in reimbursement policy in March 2012, there was a steady 0.07 percentage point monthly increase in their use in adults and 0.1 percentage point increase per month in adolescents. In December 2017, 5.65% of adults and 10.48% of adolescents received an IPP-LARC (JAMA. 2019;).
There was a corresponding, significant change in the trend of short-interval births among adolescents. Before the policy change, adolescent short-interval births had been increasing, but by March 2016 – 4 years after the payment change – the adolescent short-interval birth rate was 5.28 percentage points lower than what was expected had the increasing trend continued.
There was no significant change in the trend for short-interval births among adults.
“These findings suggest that IPP-LARC reimbursement could increase immediate postpartum contraceptive options and help adolescents avoid short-interval births,” the authors wrote, noting that as of February 2018, 36 other states’ Medicaid programs had began separately reimbursing for IPP-LARC.
They also raised the possibility that there may have been confounding due to other events that occurred at the same time as the policy changes.
The study was supported by theand one author was supported by National Institutes of Health. No conflicts of interest were declared.