Birth Cost Recovery - A Response
At the 5th Annual Conference, HealthWatch debuted a special edition Reporter newsletter on the topic of birth cost recovery and infant mortality in Wisconsin. Medicaid uses the term “birth cost” (or “lying-in cost”) to describe a pregnant woman’s medical bills and expenses associated with a pregnancy and baby’s birth. But there is a problem: Medicaid requires identified fathers to pay these expenses for unmarried women enrolled in Medicaid programs, but Medicaid does not require the fathers of children born to married women on Medicaid to pay any birth costs. County child support agencies are responsible for collecting this money from fathers.The special edition Reporter has already generated some media attention. The Badger Herald covered the story, stating, "The report found Wisconsin collected more than $18 million in birth costs from unmarried fathers last year, more than any other state with similar policies. It also raised concern that recent budget cuts to child support enforcement may incentivize local offices to act more aggressively in obtaining birth costs from unmarried fathers." The Wisconsin State Journal also covered the story, but, unfortunately, arrived at some inaccurate conclusions about the families impacted by this policy.
CLICK HERE to read ABC for Rural Health's Mike Rust response to Chris Rickert's birth cost recovery story.