Independent Birthing Center Saving District of Columbia $800,000 Annually in Health Costs
The only independent birthing center in the District of Columbia is reducing costs for the city's health care system by more than $800,000 annually, primarily because of the reduced numbers of caesarean sections and preterm deliveries, according to Ruth Watson Lubic, the center's founder and chair, the Washington Post reports. The not-for-profit Family Health and Birth Center, housed in a former supermarket and located in a low-income area of the District, provides gynecological and obstetrical services, as well as parenting advice to women and general health services to children, the Post reports. The center has a predominantly black client base, according to the Post. An increasing number of women are giving birth in the center's birthing rooms, while other women give birth at Washington Hospital Center accompanied by one of the center's seven on-staff midwifes, the Post reports. Preliminary data for 2006 indicate that the center might have delivered a "record number" of infants -- more the 153 last year, as well as the highest percentage ever delivered outside the hospital -- the Post reports. Of infants delivered through the center through mid-October, less than 5% were delivered before 37 weeks' gestation, 2% were considered low birthweight and 7% were delivered through c-sections. Citywide rates for those measures are in the double digits, according to the Post. According to an analysis conducted by Lubic based on an estimate in a recent Institute of Medicine report, the center saves $567,000 annually by reducing the number of preterm deliveries. Using the same formula, Lubic calculated that the center saves almost $285,000 in c-section costs. Lubic this fall presented her analysis to the Council of the District of Columbia's health committee. She has said that because the center continues to face increasing malpractice premiums and unchanging insurance reimbursements, it should be rewarded for reducing costs by receiving a portion of the savings, according to the Post. "There's a lot of talk about performance measures, and if you perform well you should get more money for what you do," Lubic said. According to the Post, the D.C. Council has awarded the center $450,000 in grants since 2005 (Levine, Washington Post, 12/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.