Postpartum Medicaid expansion gets support at hearing

January 23, 2023


Missouri News Network

JEFFERSON CITY — Witnesses from nearly 30 organizations testified in support of extending Medicaid benefits for women for one year after pregnancy at a Senate committee hearing Wednesday.

Current law limits Medicaid benefits to 60 days after pregnancy.

Bill sponsor Sen. Tracy McCreery, D-St. Louis County, told the Senate Health and Welfare Committee that Governor Mike Parson’s administration recommends extending coverage to one year postpartum.

She said the bill is intended to support the 4,600 women who don’t have access to postpartum health coverage in Missouri through other means.

McCreery was joined at the hearing by Sen. Elaine Gannon, R-De Soto, who has sponsored a similar bill.

“I think people see the need for this to happen,” Gannon told the Missourian after the hearing.

A similar effort last year failed to make it through the legislature.

The American Rescue Plan has a provision allowing states to extend the existing postpartum Medicaid benefit to one year at no cost to the state. The two bills are designed to implement that extension.

Twenty-eight other states have adopted the expanded benefits.

Of 29 witnesses, just one testified against the bills, and that was limited to wording concerning how the bills address the end of a pregnancy.

“I would respectfully ask that the committee simply amend the legislation to say ... ‘on the day the child is born,’” said Tim Faber, legislative liaison for the Missouri Baptist Convention.

All of the other witnesses spoke in support of the bills and represented a diverse array of interests, including anti-abortion and abortion rights organizations, religious organizations, associations of medical professionals, and health care facilities from across Missouri.

George Hubbel, an OBGYN, spoke on behalf of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology in support of the extension. He said that most problems women face postpartum occur more than 60 days after birth.

Jamie Morris, executive director of the Missouri Catholic Conference, summarized his support with the phrase, “Good outcomes for moms, good outcomes for babies.”