Objectives: (1) To determine the proportion of maternity care providers who continue to deliver babies in Oregon; (2) to determine the important factors relating to the decision to discontinue maternity care services; and (3) to examine how the rural liability subsidy is affecting rural maternity care providers' ability to provide maternity care services.
Study design: We surveyed all obstetrical care providers in Oregon in 2002 and 2006. Survey data, supplemented with state administrative data, were analyzed for changes in provision of maternity care, reasons for stopping maternity care, and effect of the malpractice premium subsidy on practice.
Principal findings: Only 36.6% of responding clinicians qualified to deliver babies were actually providing maternity care in Oregon in 2006, significantly lower than the proportion (47.8%) found in 2002. Cost of malpractice premiums remains the most frequently cited reason for stopping maternity care, followed by lifestyle issues. Receipt of the malpractice subsidy was not associated with continuing any maternity services.
Conclusions: Oregon continues to lose maternity care providers. A state program subsidizing the liability premiums of rural maternity care providers does not appear effective at keeping rural providers delivering babies. Other policies to encourage continuation of maternity care need to be considered.