Georgia Senate Approves Medicaid Postpartum Care Expansion • The Georgia Virtue

(The Center Square) — The Georgia Senate has approved a bill that would expand Medicaid coverage for new mothers.

Below Senate Bill 338, new mothers would receive Medicaid coverage for one year after giving birth. Current state policy provides health coverage for up to six months.

The Senate unanimously approved SB 338, 54-0, Monday. Proponents of the bill have said the expansion of the program is necessary to address maternal health issues.

Senator Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta, a longtime member of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, said the legislation is “a big step forward.”

“A lot of people who don’t know — who aren’t that close to health policy issues — don’t even realize how many women die during this postpartum period,” Orrock said. “There are particular heart malfunctions that can strike and kill a woman just before you know it.”

The state’s maternal mortality review board recommended the extension. The group of medical professionals has been looking at every case of maternal death for eight years to find ways to reduce future deaths.

According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the maternal mortality rate in Georgia is 34 deaths per 100,000. The national maternal mortality rate is 20.1 per 100,000, according to the data. If the bill becomes law, it would be the second expansion of maternal Medicaid coverage.

Pregnant women earning less than 220% of the federal poverty level — or less than $37,928 a year for a family of two — could receive Medicaid for up to 60 days after giving birth or miscarrying before the federal government n approves the state’s waiver to extend it to six months in April. Governor Brian Kemp signed a measure into law in 2020 that made the initial extension law.

The American Rescue Plan Act gives states the ability to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage to one year. Fifteen states have passed legislation to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

If the bill becomes law, state health officials will need to submit a Medicaid plan amendment or waiver request to the US Department of Health and Human Services for approval. This new option takes effect April 1 and is available to states for five years under current federal guidelines.

Kemp is expected to sign the bill, which must first be approved by the House. The governor has earmarked more than $28 million in his spending proposal for the next two years for the expansion. Medicaid is partially funded by federal dollars.

By Nyamekye Daniel | The central square

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