Centers for Disease Control and Prevention photo
By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved a plan to expand Medicaid coverage for postpartum care in Kentucky from the current 60 days to 12 months, which will allow an estimated 10,000 mothers to maintain their health coverage for one year after giving birth.
“Currently, more than half of Kentucky’s children are covered in Medicaid or KCHIP, and each year we cover half of all births in the state,” Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander said in a news release.
This change is important to address the health-care needs of postpartum women in the year after giving birth. A federal report that looked at the implications of extending postpartum coverage found that one in three pregnancy-related deaths occur between one week and one year after childbirth. It adds that the postpartum period is critical for recovering from childbirth, addressing complications of delivery, ensuring mental health, managing infant care and transitioning from obstetric to primary care.
The change was made possible by a provision in the American Rescue Plan Act and the 2022 General Assembly’s passage of Senate Bill 178, directing the state to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months.
Speaking about the bill in the House, Rep. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill, said, “Kentucky has rates of maternal death that rival third world countries. We have 37.7 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, which is the highest in the nation.”
The state Department for Public Health‘s 2020 Maternal Mortality Review report, with data from 2013-18, shows that 76 mothers in Kentucky died from complications related to pregnancy and birth in 2018. The report also shows that in 2018. Black mothers in Kentucky had a death rate of 42.1 per 100,000 live births compared to 17.2 for white mothers. The state estimated in 2017, 78% of maternal deaths were preventable.
Kentucky joined California, Florida and Oregon in obtaining the latest rounds of approval for 12-month postpartum care. States that previously received approval were Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
“This coverage will allow them to access medical services to make sure their health-care needs, as well as the health care needs of their babies, continue to be met,” Kentucky Medicaid Commissioner Lisa Lee said in the release.