At least eight states this year have decided to seek federal approval to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage, leaving just a handful that have opted not to guarantee at least a year of health care for women during that critical period after pregnancy.
The new states on the list include Montana, where lawmakers in the recently ended legislative session voted for a state budget that contains $6.2 million in state and federal funds over the next two years to extend continuous postpartum eligibility from 60 days to 12 months after pregnancy. That would ensure coverage for between 1,000 and 2,000 additional parents in the state each year, according to federal and state estimates.
Maggie Clark, the program director for Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, has been tracking statehouse bills to expand postpartum coverage under Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for low-income people. What’s driving the wave is the recognition by policymakers of all political affiliations that the U.S. is in a maternal health crisis, she said. Maternal mortality rates increased during the pandemic, particularly among non-Hispanic Black women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Whether you’re conservative, liberal, or somewhere in between, people are really supportive of maternal health and helping moms and babies get a good start,” Clark said.
More than 4 in 10 births in the U.S. are covered under Medicaid. But the default postpartum coverage period is 60 days.
State by state, momentum has been building to ensure that new mothers’ medical care isn’t interrup …