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Medicaid for Mothers and Infants Pays Lasting Dividends in Minnesota

Two of the biggest predictors for adverse birth outcomes are inadequate prenatal care and lack of Medicaid coverage, according to a new report. (Herney/Pixabay)
Two of the biggest predictors for adverse birth outcomes are inadequate prenatal care and lack of Medicaid coverage, according to a new report. (Herney/Pixabay)
May 22, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A new report shows states that expanded their Medicaid program have reduced maternal deaths and infant mortality rates and overall improved positive birth outcomes.

The Georgetown University Center for Children and Families report shows that providing health coverage for women before they're pregnant improves the health of mothers and babies.

Stephanie Hogenson, outreach director for the Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota agreed with the findings that Medicaid expansion has made a significant difference.

"States that expanded Medicaid, like Minnesota, saw a 50% greater reduction in infant mortality compared to those states that have not yet to take up the expansion," said Hogenson. "So, this is just another demonstration of how effective expanding Medicaid has been."

The report also shows that Medicaid expansion has sharply reduced the rate for women of childbearing age who are uninsured.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, said despite spending more than any other country on hospital-based maternity care, the United States fares worse in preventing pregnancy-related deaths than most other developed nations.

She pointed out that maternal deaths are decreasing globally, but increasing in the U.S., particularly for women of color.

"We are really the only very developed country that's seeing that, and that's very troubling," said Alker. "For states that have not expanded Medicaid, Medicaid expansion is clearly the single most important step a state could take to address this crisis."

At the State Capitol this week, lawmakers agreed to continue Minnesota's provider tax that was scheduled to expire at year's end. The tax funds MinnesotaCare and the state's Medicaid program, which includes coverage for children and pregnant women.

Hogenson noted that uninterrupted funding is important for healthy birth outcomes.

"We are relieved that the provider tax has been protected and will continue," she added, "and Medicaid in Minnesota for now will remain strong, and we can continue to move the needle in the right direction."

Native American, black and Hispanic babies face the greatest risk of adverse birth outcomes, according to the Georgetown report, which was released in conjunction with the March of Dimes and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Disclosure: Georgetown University Center for Children & Families contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Roz Brown, Public News Service - MN