Background: Medicaid pays for approximately half of United States births, yet little research has explored Medicaid beneficiaries' perspectives on their maternity care. Typical maternity care in the United States has been criticized as too medically focused while insufficiently addressing psychosocial risks and patient education. Enhanced care strives for a more holistic approach.
Methods: The perspectives of participants in the Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns II initiative, which provided enhanced prenatal care to women covered by Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) during pregnancy through Birth Centers, Group Prenatal Care, and Maternity Care Homes, are evaluated. Strong Start intended to improve care quality and birth outcomes while lowering costs. We analyzed data from 133 focus groups with 951 pregnant or postpartum women who participated in Strong Start from 2013 to 2017.
Results: The majority of focus group participants said that Strong Start's enhanced care offered numerous important benefits over typical maternity care, including considerably more focus on women's psychosocial risk factors and need for education. They praised increased support; nutrition, breastfeeding, and family planning education; community referrals; longer time with practitioners; and involvement of partners in their care. Maternity Care Home participants, however, occasionally voiced concerns over lack of practitioner continuity and short clinical appointments, whereas Group Prenatal Care participants sometimes said they could not attend visits because of lack of childcare.