The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved the extension of postpartum Medicaid coverage and Children’s Health Insurance in Hawaii, Maryland and Ohio on Tuesday. One advocate said all states should follow suit.
Through America’s Rescue Plan, states have the option to extend postpartum coverage in their Medicaid and CHIP programs from the current mandatory 60-day period to 12 months after pregnancy. States can make the change through a state plan amendment, which is a proposed change to Medicaid plans. This option took eeffective April 1 and offered for five years, according to Kaiser Family Foundation. Before April 1, states expanded postpartum coverage through a Section 1115 exemption or by using state funds.
It needs an extension, said Dr. Jen Villavicencio, chief of capital transformation at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The organization was a main advocate to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for up to one year. About a third of all maternal deaths occur between a week and a year after giving birth, she said.
“The weeks after birth are a critical health period for the individual… The period after birth should include ongoing access to health care, not a one-time appointment, with services and support – especially for patients with chronic conditions – tailored to each individual’s needs,” — Villavicencio said. “This requires timely follow-up and ongoing coordination of care with other healthcare professionals to set the stage for long-term health and well-being. Yet people will have a hard time accessing this care if they don’t have health insurance.
So far, 21 states and the District of Columbia have implemented postpartum coverage expansion, while nine states are ready to implement it pending CMS approval, according to stalker by ACOG.
Medicaid covers 42% of all births in the country. With Tuesday’s approval, an additional 34,000 people a year are eligible for postpartum Medicaid and CHIP coverage for 12 months after pregnancy, HHS said in news release. That includes about 2,000 people in Hawaii, 11,000 in Maryland and 21,000 in Ohio. In total, approximately 318,000 Americans annually are eligible, HHS says.
Of the 12 states that chose not to fully expand Medicaid, nine have sought or plan to seek an extension of postpartum Medicaid coverage. Kaiser Health News reported in June. But some politicians in non-expansion states, such as Wyoming, South Dakota and Mississippi, do not want any form of Medicaid expansion, including coverage after childbirth.
If all states adopted the 12-month postpartum option, about 720,000 Americans a year would have guaranteed Medicaid and CHIP coverage for one year after pregnancy, HHS said.
“Through the American Rescue Plan Act, Congress provided an easier way for states to expand Medicaid coverage for pregnant people,” Villavicencio said. “Every country should take advantage of this opportunity.”
Under the Covid-19 public health emergency, states are required to provide continuous coverage to Medicaid enrollees, KFF said. Therefore, postpartum coverage is continuous throughout the pandemic.
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