LANSING, Mich. (March 18, 2021) — Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) this week introduced Senate Bill 252, that would expand temporary, pregnancy-related Medicaid coverage to one year after childbirth to improve maternal health outcomes and decrease postpartum mortality rates.
While postpartum care has traditionally centered around one clinical visit six to eight weeks after delivery, there has been a paradigm shift to emphasize a new “fourth trimester,” in that that postpartum care is an ongoing process, typically requiring multiple visits and follow-up care that may last a year or longer. This is particularly important for those who experience pregnancy complications or have chronic conditions, such as hypertension or diabetes.
“Experts agree that the ongoing physical and behavioral health of the mother is a major concern during and after pregnancy, especially among communities of color and low-income women,” Sen. Brinks said. “My legislation would expand health care options to these mothers in a manner that is consistent with our reality: That most are not getting care beyond the archaic, bare minimum standards. These disparities and shortcomings in our health care system are unacceptable and harmful to the mother, child(ren), and family.”
At least one in 10 women experience perinatal depression, with some studies suggesting even higher rates and worse access to treatments among communities of color and low-income women.
“Extending Medicaid coverage for mothers in the postpartum period will save lives,” said Amy Zaagman, executive director of the Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health. “Data shows us 17% of pregnancy-related deaths in Michigan are happening in the later postpartum period, 43 days or more after birth. Coverage during this time period is essential to ensure lack of care or disruption in care does not contribute to poor outcomes.”
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