Calls grow for Mississippi to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 9:33 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Moms and babies are at the center of one hot button legislative issue. We want to help you understand what’s at stake when it comes to postpartum Medicaid coverage.

Maybe you’re wondering why this issue of postpartum Medicaid matters.

“Medicaid covers actually 65% of all births in Mississippi,” described pediatrician Dr. Anita Henderson. “So, even if you don’t have Medicaid or did not have Medicaid for your pregnancy, it is highly likely that you know someone who does.”

Outside of the pandemic and the public health emergency, Mississippi moms were only receiving postpartum Medicaid coverage for 60 days. That was extended to a full year, but that will soon expire.

Earlier this month, the governor said this.

“The postpartum Medicaid expansion, what I have said in the past, and I will continue to say today is that the data is incomplete at best,” noted Reeves on February 16.

But through social media posts, two days before the legislative deadline to move the bill out of committee, the governor put out this endorsement. Saying, “in a post-Dobbs world - we may even have to be willing to do things that make us “philosophically uncomfortable.” He added a call for the legislature to pass the bill extending the coverage to 12 months, and he would sign it.

In Mississippi—for ANY soon to be mom and for a long time before I became Governor—we have had presumed Medicaid...

Posted by Tate Reeves on Sunday, February 26, 2023

Faith leaders with Working Together Mississippi held a press conference Monday trying to appeal to the remaining hold-out in the legislative leadership.

“We’re saying to the Speaker of the House, join us,” said Bishop Ronnie Crudup, Sr., Fellowship of International Churches and Head Pastor of New Horizon Church International. “And let’s do this because it’s the right thing to do for Mississippi because we value and we love our mothers and our children.”

“At this time when women’s choices and self determination is being prescribed, it is all the more important that this essential postpartum health care be extended,” added Rabbi Debra Kassoff, Hebrew Union Congregation in Greenville and Working Together MS organizer.

House Minority leader, Representative Robert Johnson, is glad to see the governor’s change of course but:

“The truth is the governor can do it himself. He’s essentially the head of Medicaid. He appoints the chairman of Medicaid. All the governor has to say is do it. He could do it with a stroke of a pen,” said Rep. Robert Johnson.

The House Medicaid committee would need to pass Senate Bill 2212 out by Tuesday to keep it in play.

The Speaker Philip Gunn’s office tells us he received a letter with the information he had requested from the Division of Medicaid. We’re told it says they’re supportive of the extension of postpartum coverage. And the bill is expected to be taken up in the Medicaid committee Tuesday morning.

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