Extending insurance coverage for postpartum women

The Health and Human Services Finance and Policy committee heard a bill this to extend postpartum Medical Assistance coverage from 60 days to one year. Women’s health experts testified in strong support of the proposal to provide a vital pathway to combat our country’s maternal health crisis.

While Minnesota fares better than other states in our maternal mortality figures, significant disparities exist by race and geography. Historically, the maternal mortality rate for African American women has been at least twice as high as white mothers; the American Indian mortality rate is approximately four times higher than white mothers. Data also suggests that almost half of maternal deaths occur in greater Minnesota.

The postpartum period has been a growing focus in efforts to address maternal morbidity and mortality. Postpartum care includes services like recovery from childbirth, follow up on pregnancy complications, management of chronic health conditions, access to family planning, and addressing mental health conditions.

Federal law requires our state’s Medical Assistance program to cover women who are enrolled during pregnancy for 60 days postpartum. Data suggests that 40% of women enrolled in MA during pregnancy lose this coverage after that time or face gaps in coverage, increasing the risk of severe health complications. Loss of health coverage so soon after birth has contributed to disparities in postpartum mental and physical health complications among mothers of color, American Indian mothers, and low-income mothers. These mothers experience lower rates of postpartum care and support and higher rates of maternal morbidity.

Sixty days of insurance coverage is not enough to make sure a woman has a detailed and continuous care plan to navigate the precarious time of recovering from delivery and adjusting to life with a newborn. Extending coverage after delivery is one commonsense way to address the maternal health needs in Minnesota, and DFLers will voice continued support as this bill moves forward. (SF 735)