Roundup: Want to Anger a LOT of Women? Propose Eliminating Epidurals to “Save Money”

Robin Marty

One Utah legislator has a fantastic way to save some money: stop allowing epidurals during birth.

We all know that states are dealing with huge budget deficits, and that medical costs are skyrocketing.  Well, one Utah legislator believes he has come up with a partial solution to the problem: deny epidurals for any pregnant woman on Medicaid.

From the Daily Herald:

Under the theory that perhaps thousands of Utah college students are having babies paid for by Medicaid that they could pay for themselves, one lawmaker has a plan: cut all elective epidurals and elective C-sections.

Sen. Dan Liljenquist, R-Bountiful, has vowed massive Medicaid reform in next year’s legislative session, and first on the list is people who may be freeloading. Medicaid pays for 15,000 births a year in Utah, a third of the total, Liljenquist says.

Appreciate our work?

Rewire is a non-profit independent media publication. Your tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.


“Do we save some kid or make birth easier?” he said, noting that the waiting list for Medicaid in Utah just for the disabled has reached 4,400 people.

Liljenquist says the state could save millions. Epidurals, a shot given in the spine, are a common method of relieving pain during labor. At Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo, 86 to 87 percent of women who deliver babies at the hospital get an epidural; studies show about 65 percent of births nationwide happen with an epidural.

And it’s not just one lawmaker.  From the same article:

“These are 90 percent out-of-state students having babies on our dime,” Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, told Liljenquist, referring to BYU students. Conservative lawmakers have been upset about anecdotal evidence of students with a Lexus and trust fund having a baby under Medicaid. They qualify because there may technically be no income.

During the legislative session earlier this year, Rep. John Dougall, R-Highland, caused a stir for saying the same thing.

So, first you eliminate abortion options so women are forced to give birth should they have a birth control failure, then you tell them it needs to be as painful as possible as well?  It’s not surprising that the reaction has been somewhat…passionate.

From Opposing Views:

Denying patients epidural anesthesia is a great way to put misogynistic, classist douchebaggery into action. Rich women will be able to afford paying for pain relief and poor and middle class women will not have access to it. It’s about as thoughtful a move as trying to force more women to breastfeed by making formula available by prescription only.

Sen. Liljenquist claims people are misunderstanding him, according to the Daily Herald in a follow-up.  He’s just saying that things that are elective should be treated as such, and not covered.  But why doesn’t he just propose eliminating all anesthesia, then, since none of it is “necessary?”

Other legislators and health care policy-makers are quick to point out that Liljenquist is way out of line with his proposal:

Liljenquist has already been the target of radio talk shows and a fellow Republican senator who isn’t impressed with his ideas.

“All I can say is thank God for anesthesia,” said Sen. Peter Knudson, assistant majority whip, who said on KSL Radio that Liljenquist’s pitch is “absolutely not” a good one.

“There are people who have pain thresholds who can tolerate a lot of discomfort, but not everyone,” he said. “I’m all for saving money … but this is not where we should begin.”

Knudson isn’t the only one who isn’t on board with Liljenquist. Lincoln Nehring at the Utah Health Policy Project said the Bountiful Republican is mistaken to think Medicaid is some sort of luxury program.

“Sen. Liljenquist has this belief that it would be better if Medicaid provided subpar care to encourage people to move into the private market,” said Nehring, the project’s Medicaid policy director.

“As a rule, Medicaid doesn’t provide access to optional services,” he said. “Nobody’s getting plastic surgery on the taxpayers’ dime unless it’s really necessary.”

Mini Roundup: Rethinking your contraception options?  Looks like you can either choose by cost, or by environmental factors. But whichever you choose, don’t look to get it in this corner of New York.

Aug 20

Load More