Evaluation of Medicaid Staff Responses about State Coverage of Abortion Care

In A Mystery Caller Evaluation of Medicaid Staff Responses about State Coverage of Abortion Care, published in Women’s Health Issues, authors Amanda Dennis and Kelly Blanchard investigated how Medicaid staff in 17 states responded to inquiries about coverage for abortion in the few circumstances (rape, incest, or a pregnancy that threatens a woman’s life) that qualify for federal Medicaid funding.

Using a mystery caller approach, the authors surveyed Medicaid staff about the availability of abortion coverage, the process for obtaining coverage, and the associated costs for an abortion in circumstances of rape and life endangerment in five states where Medicaid coverage should be available to cover most abortions and in 12 states with restrictions on the circumstances under which Medicaid funding can be used for abortion.

The authors found that Medicaid staff definitively provided information about the availability of coverage that was consistent with state policies in 64% of surveys. However, 52% of staff reported that coverage could be difficult to obtain and that rigorous documentation of the circumstances of the abortion was required. Information about copays for abortion was given in 78% of surveys. The authors subjectively rated the caller’s experience with Medicaid staff as excellent during 32% of the surveys, adequate in 61% of surveys, and poor in 7% of surveys.

The authors concluded that “Medicaid staff provided inconsistent information that was often discouraging of women seeking abortion coverage, suggesting that women may have difficulties obtaining accurate information about Medicaid coverage of abortion, which may deter access to care.”

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