On October 27, 2022, Pennsylvania received federal government approval to expand Medicaid (Medical Assistance) coverage to a full year after pregnancy, a change intended to improve access to postpartum care and reduce maternal mortality. As PHLP previously reported, Pennsylvania’s expansion took effect on April 1st, meaning new mothers would receive 12 full months of Medicaid coverage following the birth of a child instead of 60 days. Federal government approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) means Pennsylvania will receive federal funding for the initiative.
Pennsylvania is among the 28 states now covering (or intending to cover) a year of postpartum care, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Pennsylvania’s expansion of postpartum care will really be felt after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). That is because during the PHE, Pennsylvania has continued Medicaid coverage for most individuals who were enrolled in Medicaid at the start of the pandemic or who have joined Medicaid since the pandemic began. As a result, postpartum coverage has been continuous since January 27, 2020.
The United States has long had the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries, and a significant racial disparity with Black people four times more likely than white people to die of pregnancy-related causes. Expanding Medicaid is expected, over time, to reduce deaths and racial disparity. It will, as the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services notes in its Bulletin, “help [enrollees] maintain relationships with care providers, reduce pregnancy-associated deaths and racial disparities for pregnancy-associated deaths, improve maternal-child health outcomes and improve the health and wellbeing of pregnant beneficiaries as well as postpartum mothers and their children.”