Funding Strategies for Maternal Health Programs
One way to create a sustainable maternal health program is to identify stable funding. Rural programs addressing
maternal health are using various forms of funding to support their programs.
Some previously uninsured women may be eligible
for Medicaid if they become pregnant and meet income eligibility thresholds, which vary across states.
Medicaid will pay for all expenses associated with pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, up to 60 days after giving
pays for 43% of all births in the U.S. and 51% of rural births.
Medicaid provides hospitals reimbursement for childbirth expenses, but provides lower reimbursements for these expenses than
private insurers. This increases the financial vulnerability of obstetric providers and practices
because reimbursement is lower than the actual costs of providing obstetric care.
In addition to Medicaid, other federal agencies can be important sources of supporting rural maternal health
programs. The federal government funds Title V
Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grants to states and territories to support improvements in the
health and well-being of women and children. Other funding opportunities are available through the Maternal and Child Health
Bureau, U.S. Department of
Health &Human Services Office on Women's Health, and Indian Health Service. The National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health
provide funding for clinical and community research addressing maternal health and maternal mortality.
Funding focused on rural communities is available through the Federal Office of Rural Health
Policy, including through the Health Resources and Services Administration's Rural
Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) Program. Other federal funding opportunities can
be found at Grants.gov,
with a search for Maternal Health.
There is considerable variability across states in funding and policy for rural maternity care. Every state
provides comprehensive coverage for prenatal care, labor and delivery, and other related services through their
state-specific Medicaid program, to women who
meet Medicaid eligibility requirements. Some states have opted to expand
Medicaid's post- and intrapartum services to cover contraception for women who do not qualify for
comprehensive Medicaid coverage. Some states have also started to reimburse
for doula services through Medicaid.
States and territories also utilize
Title V block grant dollars differently. Some states, for example, provide seed funding for local pilot
programs. Advocacy organizations, such as the March of Dimes, can
work with rural communities to advocate for maternal health funding in the state budget, which can help support
sustainable rural maternal health programs.
By December 2018, 45 states and the District of Columbia had established maternal mortality
review committees (MMRCs). These states must also have systems in place to address the committees'
findings, which they can use to advocate for state policy changes to ensure the availability of quality maternal
healthcare. For example, Illinois' MMRC was developed in 2000. The committee found that hemorrhage was the
leading cause of maternal mortality in the state of Illinois. An Obstetric Hemorrhage Education Project (OBHEP)
subcommittee was created to develop a statewide OBHEP
for all obstetric providers practicing in Illinois. This training is now mandatory by state law. Developing a diverse
committee with representatives from all communities affected (including rural and communities of color)
may be helpful to inform what language to include in state legislation. There is considerable variability among states in
how frequently the MMRCs meet, which data are collected, data collection methods, and who can access the data.
Other Funding Sources
Collaborating with other organizations to consolidate and leverage resources can help sustain initiatives. Rural
communities should also attempt to secure diverse sources of funding in addition to federal and state dollars.
Funding opportunities can be found in RHIhub's Rural Funding & Opportunities section.
Resources to Learn More
to Success for Medicaid Coverage of Doula Care
Discusses the most significant challenges to Medicaid coverage of doula care services and offers recommendations
on how advocates can overcome these barriers.
Author(s): Chen, A.
Organization(s): National Health Law Program, California Preterm Birth Initiative