Advocates Push for More Postpartum Healthcare Funding
Thursday, May 4, 2023
Healthcare advocates in Missouri are urging support for a measure that would expand health care services for new mothers on Medicaid.
Senate Bill 45 would expand coverage for those new moms from two months to a full year.
Right now, women on Medicaid who have babies lose that coverage after 60 days... and with it - said Missouri Highlands Healthcare CEO Karen White - services that are critical to reducing mortality and morbidity rates among the most vulnerable new mothers, who are at high risk for suffering life-threatening post-partum conditions such as hypertension, diabetes or acute cardiovascular emergencies.
"For instance," said White, "if the mother has bleeding or a hemorrhage and dies past that 60 mark, then that child is an orphan - you know, motherless."
White said the benefits extension would also apply to mental-health services which are often in much greater need when new moms are confronted with post-partum depression.
A multi-year study by the Missouri Department of Health shows moms on Medicaid are eight times more likely to die within one year of pregnancy than women with private health insurance, which White said further establishes the need to pass Senate Bill 45.
Missouri's maternal mortality rate is ranked eighth worst in the nation, and that same health department study says 75% of those deaths are preventable.
White admited that while the $3.7 million price tag is steep, the services that money will provide are a worthy, life-saving investment.
"It is a huge ask of the state of Missouri and the budget to extend this coverage the additional ten months," said White. "My argument would be that I think overall it will save money because it will keep folks out of the emergency room."
White added that the extension would also allow a new mother to continue with the doctor she has seen throughout her pregnancy and delivery, further reducing post-partum provider transitions and potential medical complications.
The bill awaits action in a conference committee.
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