Medicaid Cuts Could Affect Prenatal Care - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/04/04

Medicaid Cuts Could Affect Prenatal Care

Thousands of expectant mothers in Georgia are getting some unexpected news. Gov. Sonny Perdue wants to cut Medicaid benefits to some of the higher income families who qualify for state assistance. Doctors believe the changes will affect about 12,500 women, but what has them really concerned is the impact these cuts could have on some of Georgia's littlest residents.

Every year, more than 130,000 babies are born in Georgia, half on Medicaid. The governor's move would affect women like Salinia Shatteen, who's been in the hospital for the last month and a half because of her high-risk pregnancy. "It means a lot to me because without it, I mean, I probably wouldn't be able to afford being here for the length of time I've been here," Shatteen said.

Currently, a family of four has to make less than $43,240 to qualify for prenatal care, but with the changes families will have to make less than $34,040 to qualify.

The state already has more low birth weight babies--about 8.5 percent--than the national average. Doctors are concerned that if the Medicaid cuts go into effect, that number could reach even higher.

"If a woman has inadequate prenatal care or not appropriate prenatal care, she is at a higher risk for having a complication in pregnancy, such as delivering early," explained Dr. Iffath Abbasi-Hoskins of Memorial Health.

Many of those babies could be underweight and require more expensive care. "The costs vary anywhere between $20,000 and $400,000," said Dr.Hoskins. "We would be spending more and affecting our own future, which is our children."

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com

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