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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Longer Medicaid after births approved by Mississippi House panel

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A bill that would give women a full year of Medicaid coverage following childbirth has progressed in a Mississippi House committee.

Jackson, Mississippi (AP) Only days after Republican Governor Tate Reeves expressed support for the legislation, a Mississippi House committee passed a plan on Tuesday that would give women a full year of Medicaid coverage following childbirth.

In a voice vote, the bill was approved by the House Medicaid Committee despite significant opposition.

Republican Rep. Missy McGee of Hattiesburg argued for a full year of postpartum care rather than the state’s customary two months: “This is the proper thing for women and babies in Mississippi.”

In Mississippi, Medicaid covers roughly 60% of births. The state is among the poorest in the nation, and infant and maternal death rates are high. After pregnancy, difficulties are substantially more likely to affect black women.

Republican Speaker Philip Gunn and Republican Joey Hood, the chairman of the Medicaid Committee and an Ackerman resident, will determine whether to schedule Senate Bill 2212 for a full House vote before the March 8 deadline. Feb. 7 saw the bill pass the Senate.

Democrats have heavily criticised Reeves’ refusal to support a year of postpartum Medicaid coverage as he runs for reelection. The governor, who refers to himself as a “numbers guy,” has regularly stated that he doesn’t think it’s worthwhile to spend around $7 million annually for the insurance.

Yet, Reeves said on Sunday that more births would take place as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate abortion rights statewide in a Mississippi case last year. Longer Medicaid coverage following birth, according to him, is “part of our new pro-life platform.”

States have kept people on Medicaid throughout the COVID-19 national public health emergency, which started in March 2020. That situation is expected to end in May.

Medicaid coverage for postpartum patients has been extended to a full year in twenty-eight states plus the District of Columbia.

Democratic Representative Omeria Scott of Laurel stated on Tuesday that she and other members of the Legislative Black Caucus have long advocated for extending Medicaid coverage for women after giving birth, long before the decision-makers who are now shifting their positions.

Scott remarked, “I do believe that it is crucial that we communicate the truth since we sometimes wish to recreate history.

Last year, the postpartum Medicaid coverage extension was approved by the Republican-controlled Mississippi Senate, which was led by Republican Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann. Gunn opposed such legislation and stated that if the state Division of Medicaid supported it, he would permit discussion in the Republican-controlled House.

The governor-appointed Medicaid Director Drew Snyder wrote in a letter on Monday that granting one year of coverage following birth “is a suitable solution for Mississippi.”

Reeves, Gunn, and many other Republican state politicians in Mississippi are still opposed to letting those with low-wage employment that don’t offer health insurance participate in Medicaid. 11 states, including Mississippi, have rejected the expansion. According to the health reform bill that former President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010, that coverage is optional.

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