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Mothers on Medicaid are losing their coverage just 60 days after giving birth. Here’s how Pennsylvania can keep our mothers healthy

March 16, 2021

Medicaid only covers mothers for 60 days after they’ve given birth. As it stands, the United States is the only developed country where the maternal mortality rate has been increasing since 1987. According to a recent ACOG report,  Black and Indigenous women are 3.3 and 2.5 times more likely, respectively, to die from pregnancy-related issues than white women — and many of these deaths could have been prevented. In fact, 60% of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable; mothers just need access to care.

Many pregnancy-related deaths are of those who lose coverage or access to care after giving birth. In the 60 days that Medicaid currently covers mothers who’ve given birth, they may face health problems such as high blood pressure, breast infections, postpartum depression, or gestational diabetes, all of which make it harder to look for new coverage. Even when everything goes as smoothly as possible, looking for new insurance while taking care of a newborn is extremely hard.

Pregnancy-related deaths happen well after the 60-day Medicaid period. 29% of deaths occur 43 days to a year following birth, and, in some states, 50% of those deaths occurred after the 60-day period.

Medicaid needs to cover mothers for one year after they give birth in order to prevent pregnancy-related deaths. Healthy mothers raise healthy babies; we want mothers to have access to the care they need to support themselves and their families. 

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was passed on March 11th. The plan encourages states to extend Medicaid coverage for mothers for 1 year after birth. Additional federal funding will be supplied to these states in order to expand coverage — states just have to apply. This option will be available for states up until 2028 and Pennsylvania needs to take this opportunity as soon as possible.