The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) marked Black Maternal Health Week by announcing actions to expand access to continuous health care coverage and access to preventative care in rural areas to improve maternal health outcomes. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra announced that Illinois is the first state to provide continuity of full Medicaid benefit coverage for mothers by offering extended eligibility for a woman during the entire first year after delivery. A new data brief shows that more than half of pregnant women in Medicaid experienced a coverage gap in the first 6 months post-partum and disruptions in Medicaid coverage often lead to periods of uninsurance, delayed care, and less preventive care. The American Rescue Plan provides an easier pathway for states to extend Medicaid postpartum coverage from 60 days to 12 months.
Secretary Becerra also announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) that will make $12 million available over four years for the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) program that will allow awardees to test models to address unmet needs for their target population, including populations who have historically suffered from poorer health outcomes, health disparities and other inequities.
“Improving maternal health outcomes – particularly among Black women – is priority for the Biden administration and for the Department,” said HHS Secretary Becerra. “Expanding access to health insurance coverage, preventative care and investing in rural maternity care is one step forward. With the American Rescue Plan, President Biden gave states tools to combat the racial disparities in pregnancy-related deaths by providing an easier pathway for states to ensure mothers access to the care they need after birth. Continuous health care coverage reduces health care costs and improves outcomes. By expanding Medicaid eligibility for a full year after delivery, Illinois is setting an important model for other states across the country to follow.”
To read the HHS press release, visit: https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2021/04/12/hhs-marks-black-maternal-health-week-announcing-measures-improve-maternal.html.
To watch the HHS press conference, visit: https://www.hhs.gov/live/live-1/index.html#13215.