Maternal & postpartum health & medicaid

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Healthcare access in Idaho has always been a challenge. With large rural areas and limited providers, finding adequate and affordable care can be difficult to navigate. And for pregnant women and new mothers, healthcare options are even graver. In Idaho, maternal mortality has increased over 121% between 2019 and 2021. Pregnancy is not a “qualifying event” to be able to enroll in marketplace health insurance plans, and 30% of new moms had no healthcare coverage prior to becoming pregnant. These issues mean new moms, babies and their families are at risk. We can change these outcomes; however, we need the Idaho Legislature to act. The Legislature must extend postpartum Medicaid coverage and increase eligibility to ensure new moms and babies have a healthy start in life.

Pregnancy is a physical stress test for any woman’s body, with previously unrecognized issues becoming apparent, and significantly higher risks after birth if there were pregnancy-related difficulties such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and other complications. Currently, Medicaid coverage ends 60 days after delivery, before many of these conditions might present themselves. Having a full year of coverage would allow medical professionals to monitor and take action to help mitigate risks for new moms. This healthcare coverage also ensures support for the mental health and wellbeing of pregnant and postpartum women, who are more likely to have pre-term and low birth-weight babies if they experience depression during pregnancy. Increasing eligibility provides more new moms and babies with healthcare access following birth, during which half of all pregnancy-related deaths occur between 43 and 365 days afterward.

Medicaid assists new moms with other needs after delivery, such as aiding in proper healing and breast-feeding assistance, as well as access to home visiting programs that help new parents at a critical stage of development and facilitate self-sufficiency for new families. Investing in Medicaid for new moms and babies provides healthcare access at a crucial time, providing stability and security for many who might otherwise go without care, leading to poor outcomes for babies, new moms and their families.

Ask your state legislators to support maternal and infant health by extending Medicaid coverage for postpartum women to a full year and increasing eligibility limits to protect new moms and babies in Idaho. Supporting postpartum coverage for new moms makes certain all families can have a healthy beginning and helps Idaho remain a great place to raise a family.