Senate OKs bill extending postpartum Medicaid coverage for more low-income women
STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin to improve maternal outcomes for women of color and low-income families by allowing more low-income mothers to keep Medicaid coverage for a year after giving birth.
“No woman should be without health care mere weeks after giving birth, particularly lower income women who are at greater risk for food or housing insecurity and other factors that can affect health. There are federal funds available for making sure low-income mothers can stay covered for a full year, and taking advantage of those funds will ensure that moms and children get off to a healthy start,” said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence).
The legislation (2021-S 0430) ensures that women who give birth while enrolled in Medicaid/RIte Care receive Medicaid coverage for 12 continuous months after giving birth instead of the current 60 days postpartum coverage. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence) is sponsoring companion legislation (2021-H 6075).
Currently, pregnant women with incomes up to 250% of the federal poverty level (FPL) are eligible for Medicaid/RIte Care. But 60 days after giving birth, women can only stay on Medicaid if their income is at or below 141% FPL. If their income is above 141% FPL, their Medicaid/RIte Care health insurance coverage ends after 60 days postpartum.
The federal American Rescue Plan passed in March gives all states the new option to extend the postpartum coverage period under Medicaid from 60 days following pregnancy to a full year. Rhode Island is among seven states and Washington, D.C. that are taking steps to provide full or partial Medicaid coverage for 12 months postpartum.
In Rhode Island, Black women are 83% more likely to experience a severe complication at birth compared to White women. Hispanic/Latina women are 34% more likely to experience a severe complication at or after birth compared to White women. Many women who give birth on Medicaid are no longer eligible for Medicaid 60 days postpartum and must seek coverage elsewhere or become uninsured, creating a gap in coverage.
The bill is supported by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT and the Economic Progress Institute.
“Evidence clearly demonstrates that women of color are less likely to have access to adequate maternal health care services and are more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than White women. Nationally, Black women are three to four times more likely than White women to die of pregnancy-related complications,” wrote Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Executive Director Elizabeth Burke Bryant in testimony she submitted for the legislation. “Ensuring women have uninterrupted Medicaid coverage during the postpartum period is important for identifying preventable health conditions, including maternal depression….Rhode Island KIDS COUNT thanks the General Assembly for their dedication to improving child and maternal health in the state of Rhode Island.”
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903