Mothers’ Lives in the Balance

American Heart Association advocates for twelve-month postpartum care

The American Heart Association is calling on state leaders to extend Medicaid postpartum healthcare coverage to save the lives of Mississippi mothers. The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, says providing mothers with one full year of healthcare coverage will ensure new moms have continuous, uninterrupted access to care to help address their ongoing health needs, including physical, social, and mental health during the postpartum period.


Severe pregnancy health issues have increased by 200% in the last 20 years. Mississippi consistently ranks near last for maternal mortality and last for infant mortality and has a pregnancy-related maternal mortality rate of 36 per 100,000 lives. Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women, claiming more women’s lives than all forms of cancer combined, and it is the number one cause of maternal death.

“Heart disease and stroke account for an estimated one in three deaths during pregnancy and birth,” said Sen. Kevin Blackwell (R – District 19). “That is shocking. And 82.4% of pregnancy-related deaths occurred 61 to 365 days postpartum. We need to act to protect the health of women before, during and after their pregnancy, both for themselves and their babies.”

Today, the American Heart Association alongside 64 organizations continue to call on state leadership to extend Medicaid postpartum healthcare coverage from 60 days to 365 days. There are multiple viable methods available including a legislative budget appropriation and a state plan amendment through the Division of Medicaid, or the passage of SB2212 into law. Mississippi moms deserve to have the lifesaving care they need to be healthy for their babies and their families.

Women in their 30s and 40s are more than two times as likely to die from cardiovascular disease than breast cancer. According to the Association, women experience unique stages through their lives which affect both overall health and cardiovascular health. Pregnancy can lead to cardiovascular conditions (including peripartum cardiomyopathy, stroke, heart attack) as well as adverse pregnancy outcomes (gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes) that can increase a woman’s risk for cardiovascular disease later in life.

“The health of mothers and infants is not inherently a political issue, but state leaders made it one.” said Laken Camp, State Government Relations Director for the Association. “This is about saving moms and babies from preventable death. It is about the livelihood of families across Mississippi. Passing formal legislation is one of multiple routes that would allow for the extension of postpartum healthcare coverage through Medicaid. This legislation would impact the entire state, and we are grateful for the support of Sen. Kevin Blackwell for speaking out and prioritizing care for women in their reproductive years by introducing SB2212.”

The American Heart Association recommends policy solutions that are sustainable and impactful for preventing maternal death and ensuring all mothers can live healthy lives. Mississippi is the only state in the Southeast that has not extended postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 365 days. In 2021, Republican leaders in our neighboring non-expansion states have displayed their understanding and empathy for the lives of moms and babies throughout their states by utilizing a provision in the American Rescue Plan Act that gave states the option to extend postpartum coverage through Medicaid by state plan amendment. Since then, Alabama and 31 other states passed measures to save mom’s lives. Mississippi moms deserve the same protection.

Laken Camp is the Mississippi Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association.

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