A new designation gives online users the ability to find hospitals that have been recognized for their commitment to high-quality maternity care.
Consumers can now search for facilities that have received the “birthing-friendly” designation through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Care Compare online tool. CMS added the new designation on Nov. 8.
The new designation identifies hospitals and health systems that participate in a statewide or national perinatal quality improvement collaborative program and that implement evidence-based care to improve maternal health outcomes.
Along with the Cost Compare tool, consumers can also access an interactive map which shows birthing-friendly hospitals and health systems. Twenty-nine hospitals and health systems in Arkansas have received the birthing-friendly designation.
We previously blogged about the birthing-friendly designation when CMS issued the annual Medicare inpatient prospective payment system and long-term care hospital prospective payment system proposed rule in 2022. Along with Medicare payment updates, the rule established the new designation — part of a broader initiative to improve maternal health.
In July 2022, CMS launched its Maternity Care Action Plan in support of the Biden Administration’s Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis. The Maternity Care Action Plan includes the birthing-friendly hospital designation along with other initiatives to address the nation’s maternal health crisis. Additional initiatives include coverage and access to care, data, quality of care, the maternity care workforce, and social supports (e.g., housing vouchers and nutrition services).
In Arkansas, there are numerous efforts underway to improve maternal health. Act 1032 of 2019 gave the Arkansas Department of Health authority to establish the Arkansas Maternal and Perinatal Outcomes Quality Review Committee to review data on births and develop strategies to improve birth outcomes. As of this writing, there are also three health systems in Arkansas participating in the Department of Health and Human Services Perinatal Improvement Collaborative, including CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs, NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital in Jonesboro, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.
In June, ACHI published an infographic depicting a healthy birthing journey, highlighting common health risks, and suggesting specific policy options for improved maternal and infant health outcomes. More recently, an ACHI analysis identified variations in cesarean-section rates across Arkansas. C-section delivery, while medically necessary in certain circumstances, carries increased risks for children (e.g., respiratory problems, increased risks of obesity), mothers (e.g., infections, blood loss, blood clots), and future pregnancies (e.g., additional C-sections, placenta issues). For more information, visit our Maternal and Infant Health page.