WHCM focuses on maternity programs

States have passed laws over the last year to reduce "drive-by deliveries" — those that involve only a 24-hour length of stay (LOS) — which led to a federal law signed in September 1996. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 1998, and mandates that insurers pay for a 48-hour stay if the mother wants it.

But "requiring insurers to cover hospital stays of 48 hours for vaginal births . . . may be giving the public a false sense of security," says a recent General Accounting Office document. The focus should be on the care received, not the LOS, the report says. (For information on how to obtain this report, see story, p. 5.)

In this month’s focus on innovative maternity services, you’ll find out how to set up an early discharge/home health care program, details of the federal law, and information about using "doulas," minimally trained women who assist through labor and in the postpartum period.