The Politics of “Drive-Through Deliveries”: Putting Early Postpartum Discharge on the Legislative Agenda

Since May 25, 1995, twenty-nine states have adopted “early discharge” legislation or comparable regulations, mandating insurers to cover minimum postpartum hospital stays. The topic of early discharge moved onto the agenda with notable speed, despite a lack of empirical evidence to support either those insurers who reduced the postpartum length of stay for mothers and babies or the new statutes that protected their right to longer stays. The new laws’ simplicity and low cost as unfunded mandates accounted for much of their appeal, as did the symbolic power of the issue to doctors and patients, frustrated by managed care. Emotional constituent anecdotes, unsupported by definitive research findings, also influenced legislators.

Author(s): Eugene Declercq; Diana Simmes

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Volume 75, Issue 2 (pages 175–202)
DOI: 10.1111/1468-0009.00051
Published in 1997