States around the country are making it easier for new moms to keep Medicaid in the year after childbirth, a time when depression and other health problems can develop.
But tight government budgets and the program’s low reimbursement may ultimately limit this push or make it hard for women with extended coverage to find doctors.
“A lot of things have changed since the pandemic,” said Venessa Aiken, a new mom in Orlando, Florida. “A lot of places no longer take Medicaid or if they do, you have to wait like two months before you can be seen.”
Many women enroll in government-funded Medicaid health insurance when they become pregnant, because qualifying income levels are higher than for women who aren’t pregnant. The federal government requires states to maintain that coverage for 60 days postpartum, or after the baby arrives. After that, moms in many states lose the coverage unless their income levels are extremely low.
Since the spring, 23 states and Washington, D.C., have said they will extend that coverage for a full year postpartum. Several more states are planning to do so.
These extensions will start helping people after the federal government’s COVID-19 public health emergency ends because states are required to keep patients enrolled during the emergency. It currently will extend at least into early next year.
The push to extend coverage has grown to include both conservative and liberal-leaning states. It also is endorsed by President Joe Biden’s administration as a way to improve equality: Postpartum mortality rates can be much higher among Black and American-Indian or Alaskan Native populations.
© Copyright LaPresse