Right now, we have an opportunity to make a meaningful and long-lasting impact in the lives of new parents across the country.
The U.S. has one of the highest rates of preventable maternal mortality when compared with other wealthy nations—but we can change that by expanding Medicaid postpartum coverage from 60 days to 12 months. It’s been proven that expanded postpartum Medicaid coverage reduces the risk of pregnancy and post-pregnancy related deaths, as well as alleviating other problems that can arise in the first year of a baby’s life.
23 states and Washington, D.C. have already passed this critical extension which disproportionately affects low-income families and communities of color… but we only have one year to help ALL states get this coverage.
The American Heart Association is proud to join the fight. This is about making sure parents are able to see their kids grow up and live full, healthy lives—but we need your help to make it happen.
Here’s where parents are getting extended coverage – and where we still need to fight for change.
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But what does this postpartum coverage for new parents include?
Postpartum Medicaid coverage provides life-saving care and support for families in the critical period after a baby comes home.
- Easing the Burden of Pregnancy Costs: Expanding postpartum Medicaid coverage will allow a new parent to focus on their health and their child’s needs and not be worried that health care costs are going to bankrupt their family at a critical transitional time.
- Address Health Disparities for New Parents of Color: Parents of color face astronomically higher incidences of maternal mortality than white parents, along with higher incidences of low birthweight births and other risk factors that can complicate a newborn’s health. Extended postpartum coverage will provide critical support to underserved communities at a time when risks to parent and baby are highest.
- Early Action to Prevent Poor Cardiovascular Outcomes: An estimated 30% - 40% of pregnant women have at least 1 factor that can lead to long-term health problems, and 20% - 30% carry a predicator of cardiovascular disease risk. The first year after pregnancy is a crucial time to monitor the risk of heart attacks and other heart problems after birth.
- Breastfeeding Support: Pediatricians highly encourage breastfeeding for up to two years to help with long term health — but right now, American parents face many obstacles to success with lactation. Access to postpartum services like lactation consultants and breastfeeding supplies will help ensure that every parent can be as successful as possible when it comes to breastfeeding.
- Mental Health Services: Every year, too many families are torn apart by suicides linked to postpartum depression — studies show 1 in 7 women experiences it. Access to mental health services is key to spotting the symptoms early and providing the treatment that new parents need. Expanding Medicaid coverage would help make sure that parents are there for their kids for all of life’s big milestones.
Postpartum Medicaid coverage has a direct impact on a mother’s overall physical and mental well-being. But a large part of the country can’t access this coverage or even hope for an expansion plan in their state. We need you to use your voice and tell legislators across your state to protect maternal health, support families, and extend Medicaid coverage to those who need it most.
Hear stories from our advocates
Andrea Engfer’s story: Andrea was 35 when she gave birth to her daughter on April 3. Five days later, Andrea woke up with a migraine and continued about her day hoping it’d go away—but it didn’t. On her way to urgent care with her husband, she suffered a stroke. After rehab, Andrea and her family are now thriving.
Wakisha Stewart’s story: At 31, Wakisha was out for the first time with her husband two weeks after giving birth to her second child. She started to feel unwell, so she went to the hospital. It turns out that a tear in her artery had actually caused a “widow maker” heart attack. Now, Wakisha says she’s going to take every single opportunity she has to live her life to the fullest.
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