Variation in the interpretation and application of the Medicaid sterilization consent form among Medicaid officials

Author Department


Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Objective(s): The Medicaid consent policy has been identified as a major barrier to desired permanent contraception, particularly for low-income communities and communities of color. As each state may modify their state Medicaid sterilization consent form, variation in the form has been reported. This study aims to characterize state-level variation in Medicaid Title XIX consent form interpretation and application.

Study design: We aimed to collect primary data from Medicaid officials in all 50 United States from January to May 2020 via a 25-question electronic survey regarding state-level consent form implementation. Questions targeted consent form details and definitions, insurance and billing, clinician correspondence, and administrative processes. We used Qualtrics XM® to collect survey responses. We performed descriptive statistics on the survey responses. There were no exclusion criteria.

Results: We had 41 responses from 36/50 states (72% participation rate). Heterogeneity existed in the key definitions of "Premature Delivery" and "Emergency Abdominal Surgery." One in five respondents reported the consent form was only available in English. Variation among Current Procedural Terminology codes covered in each state's sterilization policy were noted. Nearly a quarter of respondents did not know how Medicaid informed healthcare providers of consent form denials. Most participants (90%) were unaware of differences between state sterilization policies.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates variation in terms of consent form definitions, procedures covered, correspondence with clinicians, and administrative review processes among state Medicaid offices regarding the sterilization consent form. Greater transparency is necessary in order to reduce administrative barriers to desired permanent contraception.

Keywords: Contraception; Current Procedural Terminology Codes; Family Planning; Informed Consent; Medicaid; Sterilization Tubal.