By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Republican leaders in the Mississippi House of Representatives on Wednesday rejected a bill that would have allowed mothers to keep Medicaid coverage for a year after giving birth, in compared to the current two months.
Supporters said expanding coverage under the government’s health insurance program could help reduce Mississippi’s maternal mortality rate, which is significantly higher than the national rate.
“A healthy child needs a healthy parent,” said Democratic Rep. Bryant Clark of Pickens, who sponsored the bill.
Senate Bill 2033 it passed the Republican-controlled Senate 46-5 on February 2.
The bill passed the House Medicaid Committee on March 1, but died Wednesday when House Speaker Philip Gunn and House Medicaid Committee Chairman Joey Hood decided not to submit it. to vote. Wednesday was the deadline for House and Senate committees to consider blanket bills that had passed the other chamber.
Gunn told The Associated Press that he didn’t want anything that looked like a broader expansion of Medicaid. Mississippi is one of a dozen states They haven’t expanded Medicaid to working people whose jobs don’t provide health insurance. The expansion is an option under the federal health overhaul enacted by then-President Barack Obama in 2010.
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“As I have said very publicly, I oppose the expansion of Medicaid,” Gunn said Wednesday. “We need to find ways to keep people away, not induce them.”
Gunn said she knows Mississippi has a high maternal mortality rate, but hasn’t seen data showing that extending postpartum coverage would save money. When asked if he could save lives, Gunn said: “That hasn’t been part of the discussions that I’ve heard.”
Hood, a Republican from Ackerman, did not answer questions Wednesday about why he did not seek a House vote on the bill.
“We will continue to discuss that issue in the next session,” Hood said.
Cassandra Welchlin, executive director of the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable, blasted Gunn and Hood for killing the bill. She noted that Gunn has campaigned as “pro-life” because of her support for abortion restrictions.
“They possibly killed off mothers who won’t have access to health coverage to address issues that may arise after giving birth,” Welchlin said.
On 60% of births in Mississippi in 2020 were funded by Medicaid, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization that tracks health statistics. Only Louisiana had a higher rate, at 61%.
The Mississippi State Department of Health issued a report in April 2019 on maternal mortality in the state from 2013 to 2016. A committee of doctors, nurses and others looked at deaths that occurred during pregnancy or up to a year after the end of the pregnancy.
The report said that for those years, Mississippi had 33.2 deaths per 100,000 live births, which was 1.9 times higher than the US rate of 17.3 deaths per 100,000 live births.
The report also found that black women had 51.9 deaths per 100,000 live births. The figures for white women were 18.9 deaths per 100,000 live births.
It found that cardiovascular conditions and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy were the two most common causes of pregnancy-related death in Mississippi. About 11% of all maternal deaths were due to suicide and overdose, and 86% of pregnancy-related deaths occurred after birth, including 37% after six weeks.
“Given the number of postpartum deaths, extend Medicaid eligibility for the postpartum period from 60 days to one year after delivery,” the report recommended.
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