Washington DC — Yesterday, the Biden-Harris administration approved extending Medicaid postpartum coverage for 12 months in Hawaii, Maryland and Ohio. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, up to 34,000 people will become eligible for affordable health care thanks to the American Rescue Plan’s provision to strengthen maternal health coverage. Yesterday’s action combined with previously-approved state extensions brings the total to more than 20 states and D.C. – covering an estimated 318,000 Americans – where this postpartum coverage will be available. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:
“From day one, the Biden-Harris administration has prioritized making health care more affordable and equitable, and this announcement marks another victory for American families. Thousands will have access to essential maternal health care thanks to this 12-month extension of Medicaid coverage, which was enabled by the American Rescue Plan. This is a critical step in fighting the maternal mortality crisis and eliminating racial disparities within our health care system, particularly for Black mothers and their babies. Seventeen states have refused to take advantage of this option, leaving too many families without life saving care. It’s time for every state to take action now to save lives.”
17 States Have Refused To Expand Postpartum Medicaid For A Year After Birth. The 17 states that have failed to expand Medicaid to cover postpartum coverage for a year after birth include five states that haven’t adopted Medicaid expansion and eleven states that banned abortion. Almost all have Republican governors. Policies in these Republican held and gridlock states put new mothers at severe risk to lose stable and consistent coverage during a period of medical vulnerability.
Access To Care Is Essential At Every Stage. There is an urgent need for quality, affordable health coverage prior to, during, and after giving birth. While 48 percent of maternal deaths occur during pregnancy and delivery, more than half, 52 percent, occur in the year following the birth of a child. 12 percent of maternal deaths are deemed ‘late’, occurring between six weeks and one year following delivery, demonstrating the immense need for continuous health access and coverage for a minimum of one year following the birth of a child.
More Than Four In 10 Births Are Covered By Medicaid. In 2018, 42 percent of births were financed by Medicaid, with 40 percent or more births covered by the program in 25 states. Rates varied across the nation, with 61 percent of births financed by Medicaid in Louisiana, and 22 percent in Utah. In the 12 states that have refused Medicaid expansion, eight had more than 40 percent of births covered by Medicaid. Medicaid covers 65 percent of all births to Black mothers.