GAO: Availability of Hospital-Based Obstetric Care in Rural Areas

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a new report to Congress on access to obstetric care in rural communities. GAO found that the number of rural hospitals providing obstetric services declined from 2004 through 2018. By 2018 more than half of the rural counties lacked OB services. OB closures were focused in rural counties that were sparsely populated, had a majority of Black residents, and were considered low-income. GAO interviewed stakeholders to identify the most important factors affecting the availability of OB care and the efforts federal agencies, states, and others could take to increase the availability of services.