Mississippi may renew efforts to extend Medicaid to new moms | Mississippi News

By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS, Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi’s Republican-led Senate will try to revive a proposal allowing mothers to retain Medicaid coverage for a year after giving birth, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said Monday.

The state allows two months of postpartum coverage. Advocates for low-income women say longer coverage under the government’s health insurance program could reduce Mississippi’s high maternal mortality rate.

“This is not an expansion of Medicaid,” Hosemann said at a news conference Monday. “It’s a good faith effort to keep our babies healthy and our mothers healthy.”

Senate Bill 2033 passed the Republican-controlled Senate 46-5 on February 2. The bill passed the House Medicaid Committee on March 1 but died Wednesday when House Speaker Philip Gunn and House Medicaid Committee Chairman Joey Hood chose not to bring it to a vote. . before a deadline.

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The Reverend Ronnie Crudup Sr., senior pastor of New Horizon Church in Jackson and Bishop of the Mid-South Region of the Fellowship of International Churches, said the federal government will cover most of the cost of expanding the Medicaid coverage after birth.

“If we love our mothers and their children, then we need to pass this bill,” Crudup said Monday at the Jackson Medical Mall. He appeared with others supporting the extended coverage.

Gunn told The Associated Press last week that he doesn’t want anything that appears to be a broader expansion of Medicaid. Mississippi is one of twelve states that has not extended Medicaid to workers whose jobs do not provide health insurance. The expansion is an option under the federal health care overhaul signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010.

Gunn said he was aware Mississippi had a high maternal mortality rate, but hadn’t seen data showing that expanding postpartum coverage would save money. When asked if it could save lives, Gunn said Wednesday, “It hasn’t been part of the discussions I’ve heard.”

About 60% of births in Mississippi in 2020 were funded by Medicaid, according to Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit that tracks health statistics. Only Louisiana had a higher rate, at 61%.

The Mississippi State Department of Health released a report in April 2019 on maternal mortality in the state from 2013 to 2016. A committee of doctors, nurses and others reviewed deaths during pregnancy or up to one year after termination of pregnancy.

The report says that for those years, Mississippi had 33.2 deaths per 100,000 live births, 1.9 times higher than the US ratio of 17.3 deaths per 100,000 live births.

The report also found that black women had 51.9 deaths per 100,000 live births. The figures for white women were 18.9 deaths per 100,000 live births.

It found that cardiovascular disease and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy were the two most common causes of pregnancy-related deaths in Mississippi. About 11% of all maternal deaths were due to suicides and overdoses, and 86% of pregnancy-related deaths occurred after birth, with 37% after six weeks.

“Given the number of postpartum deaths, expand Medicaid eligibility for the postpartum period from 60 days to one year postpartum,” the report recommends.

Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter at http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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