On February 12, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce advanced fast-track legislation to enable states to more easily extend Medicaid coverage to 12 months postpartum. This critical step for women’s health comes after years of passionate and vocal advocacy from ACOG members and staff and works toward one of ACOG’s key goals of reducing maternal mortality in the United States.
The United States is the only industrialized nation in which maternal mortality rates are increasing; approximately 700 maternal deaths occur in the United States each year, of which an estimated 60% are preventable. With over 30% of maternal deaths occurring between one week and one year postpartum, extending Medicaid coverage up to 12 months postpartum is an invaluable step toward reducing preventable maternal deaths and increasing access to care.
The fast-tracked legislation would create a state plan option under the Medicaid program that would enable states to provide 12 months of postpartum coverage for individuals with a Medicaid-covered birth. This is a welcome and necessary change from the current federal mandate of 60 days of coverage after the end of pregnancy, as one year of postpartum coverage is a leading recommendation of state maternal mortality review committees and has been endorsed by more than 275 national and state-based organizations. The state plan option would create an easier glidepath for implementation, eliminating the need for a Section 1115 waiver.
As we celebrate progress made at the federal level, it’s important that we not lose sight of the need for ongoing advocacy at the state level and the work that still needs to be done. ACOG members across the country are working with their state policy makers to ensure that postpartum Medicaid coverage is extended up to 12 months. For example, several states are developing or have submitted Section 1115 waivers to extend postpartum coverage to the CMS, including Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia. ACOG members’ voices are critical to the push to extend Medicaid coverage in the states, and state momentum could force broader federal action. See our recent webinar for more background on this policy and information on state strategy.
ACOG is working tirelessly toward extending Medicaid coverage to 12 months postpartum for women across the country. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for increased access to care now and in the future, and while this extension represents welcome and critical progress toward increased access to care, it’s critical that we continue to advocate for policies that benefit those who rely on Medicaid for pregnancy care.
ACOG urges Congress to swiftly enact this foundational policy and ensure coverage during the critical postpartum period. Contact your members of Congress today!