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Wisconsin Could Extend Medicaid Coverage For Postnatal Mothers

Sunday, March 19th, 2023 -- 7:05 AM

Wisconsin could extend Medicaid coverage for postnatal mothers for up to a year, should a new bill in the state Legislature pass. 

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that the bipartisan legislation introduced this month comes as the federal government plans to end the COVID-19 public health emergency in May. In Wisconsin, some 300,000 people are expected to lose insurance. Dr. Amy Domeyer, chair of the Wisconsin section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said that states have been prohibited from withdrawing patients from Medicaid programs, but that will change. "As an obstetrician gynecologist, I want all of my patients to not only survive the first 12 months, but thrive, and I don't want to see people struggling through a mental health emergency and not having access to care," she said. Under current law, pregnant women with family incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level qualify for extended Medicaid benefits for at least 60 days after they give birth. A provision added to the state budget last year sought to increase that to 90 days, but it's still awaiting approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The bill introduced this year would require the state to ask the federal government for at least 365 days of extended Medicaid benefits.

Evers recommended in his recently proposed budget a combined $34 million over the next two fiscal years to expand Medicaid postpartum coverage from 60 days to a year. But Republicans are unlikely to support his plan. The state health department wrote in an email it estimates Evers' proposal would result in 4,300 additional people getting Medicaid coverage. For years, the U.S. has had the highest maternal mortality rate, pregnant people who die giving birth or the weeks after, compared to other wealthy nations. But the rate surged by 40 percent in 2021 over the previous year, according to a report released Thursday from the National Center for Health Statistics.  

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