Department of Social Services Highlights Expanded Postpartum Coverage

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Special Advisor to the Secretary Sara Goulet and the leadership and staff of the St. Luke’s Women and Babies Pavilion at St. Luke’s Anderson Campus on Tuesday celebrated expanding post- partum from Medicaid for mothers and people giving birth who are eligible because of their pregnancy.

Effective April 1, 2022, under the American Rescue Plan Act, the postpartum Medicaid coverage period has been extended for mothers and birthing individuals who are eligible for the program due to pregnancy at one year. after the birth of a baby. Previously, Medicaid – or Medical Assistance in Pennsylvania – offered coverage to those who were eligible due to pregnancy for only 60 days after delivery.

“This Medicaid expansion is a vital investment in postpartum care. This will allow thousands of birth parents to continue to access the physical and behavioral health care needed to stay healthy and to keep their families on the path to good health and well-being,” said Sara Goulet, Counselor DHS Special Report to the Secretary. “At a time when reproductive health care is under threat, the potentially life-saving changes this expansion of postpartum Medicaid coverage will have for parents and children across the Commonwealth represent the work needed to value life and help people to live healthy and well, as they deserve. . Opting for postpartum Medicaid expansion is an important step, and we must continue to invest in health programs that can improve care and save lives.

Expanding postpartum coverage for those covered by Medicaid will ensure continuity of health care by allowing parents to maintain relationships with and access care providers without interruption during a critical time in their lives and from that of their baby.

St. Luke’s opened its $75 million Women and Babies Pavilion in January 2020 as part of the network’s ongoing efforts to expand local access to the full spectrum of family care. St. Luke’s, a member of the Children’s Hospital Association, opened Lehigh Valley’s first and only free-standing facility dedicated entirely to children – the new Center Valley Pediatrics Specialty Center.

“Here at St. Luke’s, we are dedicated to the patients we care for and to improving health outcomes for mothers and babies,” said Dr. Elizabeth Dierking, Vice President and Residency Program Director of the St. Luke’s OB/GYN department. “We have always taken an active role in advocating for change that would benefit our mothers and babies and women across the state.

Extending Medicaid services for an entire year enables women and children from all economic backgrounds to get the care they need to achieve the dream of a healthier, happier future. …This expansion allows us to provide patients with more accessible and affordable care so they don’t have to choose between health care and other needs.

Since taking office, Governor Tom Wolf has prioritized expanding access to health care and support services for parents during pregnancy and the postpartum period and giving children a head start. strong and healthy that can lead to health, well-being and positive outcomes throughout their lives. .

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that maternal mortality rates have increased between 2019 and 2020 and that black women are almost three times more likely than white women to die after giving birth.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health released a report in 2020 analyzing 457 deaths that occurred in Pennsylvania from 2013 to 2018 that were determined to be associated with pregnancy, which is defined as deaths that occurred during pregnancy or in the year following the end of a pregnancy. According to the report, pregnancy-related deaths in Pennsylvania increased by more than 20% during this period, and Pennsylvania also followed national trends of higher maternal mortality among black women and women whose births were covered by Medicaid. Expanding Medicaid postpartum care is also a recommendation of the 2021 Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Report.

Medicaid covers 4 out of 10 births nationwide and about 3 out of 10 in Pennsylvania. Medicaid was the primary payer in Pennsylvania for about 53% of pregnancy-related deaths and nearly 60% of all pregnancy-related deaths occurred between six weeks and a year after delivery, well outside the previous limit 60 day coverage. By extending the duration of postpartum coverage, Pennsylvania seeks to improve the quality and outcomes of care and potentially save lives.

More information about postpartum Medicaid expansion and DHS maternal and child health programs available throughout Pennsylvania is available online here.

To learn more and apply for medical assistance and other assistance programs in Pennsylvania, visit www.dhs.pa.gov/compass.

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