Senate Votes for Maternity Stay Coverage

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From Bloomberg Business News

The Senate unanimously voted Thursday for an amendment opposed by businesses and insurers that would set minimum coverage for hospital stays by mothers and their newborns.

The amendment would require insurers to cover hospital stays of at least 48 hours for newborns and their mothers during normal deliveries and 96 hours for Caesarean births if a patient’s doctor calls for it.

After months of languishing in the Senate, the amendment was tacked on to a 1997 spending bill for the departments of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs, which the Senate is debating.


The future of the spending bill remained in question. The House version does not contain the maternity-stay amendment, and the issue would have to be worked out in a conference between the House and Senate. The House bill also eliminates funding for President Clinton’s Americorps program to place youths in civil service projects, which could tempt Clinton to veto it despite his support for the maternity-stay amendment.

Nevertheless, Thursday’s vote enhanced the hospital-stay amendment’s chances of becoming law regardless of the opposition. “If it gets added to an appropriations bill, it becomes more difficult” to stop, said Julie Cantor-Weinberg, health-care lobbyist for the National Assn. of Manufacturers.