More new moms in Ohio can get Medicaid coverage for a year after giving birth

April 15—More new moms in Ohio will now be covered by Medicaid for a year after giving birth.

Maternal mortality and morbidity continue to be serious health issues in Ohio, and experts say expanding Medicaid coverage could help more women get the health care they need.

“More than half of pregnancy-related deaths occur in the 12-month postpartum period, many of which are preventable,” Maureen Corcoran, director of the Ohio Department of Medicaid, said in her program announcement. . “Women who have recently given birth have health needs that last a whole year, and high-risk pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, blood clots and heart problems may not appear until months after the birth. childbirth.”

About half of births in Ohio are covered by Medicaid. That’s because women can have an income above the typical Medicaid threshold — 200% of the federal poverty level — and still be eligible during pregnancy.

Previously, the criteria reverted to typical limits at 60 days after birth. But that cut often meant a severance of a relationship with a medical care provider and a severance of care still being received.

When the U.S. bailout was passed, it included federal support for states that expanded Medicaid coverage eligibility for women until their baby’s first birthday, and Ohio took the opportunity to expand the program.

Several maternal health advocacy groups have backed the change, saying it could help address the complex issues that drive maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity in Ohio.

In 2019, when Ohio released its first maternal mortality report in years, it found that more than half of pregnancy-related deaths in Ohio were preventable. And black women died at a rate more than two and a half times that of white women.

The leading causes of pregnancy-related death in Ohio from 2008 to 2017 were cardiovascular and coronary heart disease at 14%, followed by infections at 13%, hemorrhage at 12%, mental health problems at 11%, preeclampsia and eclampsia at 10%, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health.

Emma Smales, birth outcomes manager at Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County, said many issues such as infection or high blood pressure can become health issues later in the birthline.

“It’s not just death we’re concerned about. It’s also any type of health issue that a new mom faces,” Smales said.

She said this is also linked to child health. For example, women may still need help breastfeeding after the 60-day period.

“Having the coverage to be able to go see a lactation consultant at any time is really, really helpful,” she said.

The new option went into effect April 1 for Ohio. After five years, the state can decide whether or not to renew.

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By the Numbers: Ohio Medicaid

14,000: Estimated number of women each year who, according to Ohio Medicaid estimates, will continue to be eligible due to expanded postpartum coverage

200% of the federal poverty level: eligibility limit for Medicaid coverage for pregnancy and postpartum

731: Pregnancy-related deaths in Ohio from 2008 to 2018. 30% were pregnant at time of death, 20% were pregnant within 42 days of death, and 50% were pregnant within 43 to 365 days of death .

SOURCE: Ohio Department of Health

Julio V. Miller