The Newborn and Mother’s Protection Act (NMPA) was passed in 1996 and places requirements on group health plans and health insurance issuers relating to childbirth. In general, plans may not restrict benefits for any hospital length of stay in connection with childbirth for the mother or newborn child to less than 48 hours following a normal vaginal delivery, or less than 96 hours following a cesarean section. 

The law does allow the mother’s or the newborn’s attending provider, after consulting with the mother, to discharge the mother or her newborn earlier than 48 or 96 hours, if medically appropriate and if desired by the mother. In any case, no plan or issuer may require an authorization for prescribing a length of stay that does not exceed 48 hours (or 96 hours in the case of a cesarean section).