Medicaid plays an essential role in maternal health, paying for almost half of all births. Federal law requires states to cover pregnancy, labor, and delivery care for low-income women through Medicaid. But this coverage lasts for just 60 days after giving birth (postpartum). However, the full year following the birth of a baby is a high-risk time for mothers: 53% of maternal deaths occur between seven days and one year after delivery, and 30% of maternal deaths occur between 43 days and one year after delivery.
Almost half of all postpartum women who have Medicaid lose that coverage at the 60-day mark, leaving them uninsured at a time when their health is vulnerable. Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that the already high rate of maternal deaths took a drastic turn for the worse during the pandemic: The maternal mortality rate across 26 states jumped by 79% between 2018 and 2021. This devastating trend will not change without a shift in policy. Congress should take immediate action to address this critical gap in Medicaid by requiring all state Medicaid programs to provide 12 months of continuous postpartum coverage.