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Medicaid extensions for new moms grow, may come across limits

Medicaid extensions for new moms grow, may run into limits
Venessa Aiken holds her son Jahzir Robinson, five weeks old, outside their house Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. States round the country are rendering it easier for newborn moms to help keep Medicaid in the entire year after childbirth, an essential time when depression along with other health problems can form.Credit: AP Photo/John Raoux

States round the country are rendering it easier for new moms to help keep Medicaid in the entire year after childbirth, a period when depression along with other health problems can form.

But tight government budgets and the program’s low reimbursement may ultimately limit this push or ensure it is hard for women with extended coverage to get doctors.

“Lots of things have changed because the pandemic,” said Venessa Aiken, a fresh mom in Orlando, Florida. “Plenty of places no more take Medicaid or should they do, you need to wait like 8 weeks before you be observed.”

A lot of women sign up for government-funded Medicaid medical health insurance when they get pregnant, because qualifying income levels are greater than for women who aren’t pregnant. The requires states to keep up that coverage for 60 days postpartum, or following the baby arrives. From then on, moms in lots of states lose the coverage unless their income levels are really low.

Because the spring, 23 states and Washington, D.C., have said they’ll extend that coverage for a complete year postpartum. Several more states are preparing to achieve this.

These extensions begins helping people following the federal government’s COVID-19 public health emergency ends because states must keep patients enrolled through the emergency. It currently will extend at the very least into early next year.

The push to increase coverage is continuing to grow to add both conservative and liberal-leaning states. In addition, it is endorsed by President Joe Biden’s administration in an effort to improve equality: Postpartum mortality rates could be higher among Black and American-Indian or Alaskan Native populations.

“There is no reason why we ought to stop before we’ve every particular mother and baby (covered),” Health insurance and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told The Associated Press. “Thinking about desire to provide to a fresh mother and newborn a complete year’s reassurance?”

Hawaii and federally funded Medicaid program covers prenatal doctor visits for moms and about 42% of births in the U.S.

Having that coverage eliminated some stress for Maureen Forman, who said she had been worried about her pregnancy when she gave birth to her son this past year.

“It had been really nice never to worry,” the 41-year-old Bloomington, Indiana, resident said. “I simply knew it had been all likely to be covered. I wish other had that same experience.”

Care providers and researchers say that coverage should extend well beyond 60 days following the baby arrives.

They remember that many need additional time to fit in doctor visits while they get over childbirth and look after a new baby. Some are also juggling a go back to work while achieving this.

A coverage extension “matches the truth of the postpartum period,” said Usha Ranji of the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation, which researches healthcare issues.

Issues like postpartum depression can form months later, plus some mothers may have lingering that require care. Some also might need continued drug abuse treatment.

Those that lose coverage might not be in a position to afford another option like .

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated this past year that about 45% of women on Medicaid can be uninsured following the 60-day postpartum coverage period ends.

While nearly half the states have expanded the coverage, health economist Joe Antos said he thinks others will hesitate to include the expense with their budgets.

Mississippi lawmakers scuttled a bill earlier this season that could have extended postpartum coverage partly over concerns about expanding this program.

The coverage extensions, which last five years, are backed partly by funding from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act. States will need to pay a few of the bill.

If the economy slides right into a recession, “state enthusiasm for further expansions may also fall off as their very own budgets shrink,” said Antos, who’s with the American Enterprise Institute.

Extending the coverage will not automatically guarantee better care, because finding doctors could be difficult.

Jennie Joseph says the thought of looking to get a referral to a mental medical adviser for a Medicaid patient is “laughable.” The Florida midwife said patients first need to look for a doctor to supply that referral and land a therapist who accepts Medicaid, that is even harder.

Joseph may be the founder of Commonsense Childbirth, a nonprofit that operates a birth center and clinic in central Florida. She said low Medicaid reimbursement rates and payment hassles are challenging for care providers. She said the federal government program pays her clinic not even half of just what a commercial insurer would purchase a prenatal visit. Medicaid reimbursement for postpartum visits is even less, less than $34.

“It’s about looking to get your claim paid, plus they are more readily denied than they’re paid,” she said. “Due to that, providers don’t make postpartum appointments for these mothers.”

Aiken, the Orlando newborn mom, gave birth at Joseph’s center in July. She’s had trouble obtaining a call back from her primary care doctor’s office, and she’s concerned about obtaining a referral to an expert.

“It’s pretty confusing,” she said. “Who can you turn to once you don’t possess a (primary care physician)?”

Becerra said he knows that doctor access should be improved. But he sees the coverage extensions as a step toward making things better.

“Let’s get people through the entranceway and let’s continue steadily to work to improve the amount of quality caregivers who’ll be there to meet up those folks,” he said. “But today we’ve thousands of women and babies who can’t even walk through the entranceway. ”

2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material might not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Citation: Medicaid extensions for new moms grow, may come across limits (2022, September 5) retrieved 5 September 2022 from

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