As one of over a million members of MomsRising, I am writing to ask you to support an important piece of legislation that will help save lives and improve the maternal outcomes of pregnant and postpartum individuals across the United States, the Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services Act of 2019 (H.R.4996).
Currently, the United States is the most dangerous place to give birth in the developed world, with major racial disparities where Black women die at 3-4 times the rate of white women due to maternity-related causes, independent of age, economic status, or education.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way. It is estimated that 60% of maternal deaths could be prevented by improved access to healthcare. With about half of births in the United States currently covered by Medicaid, expanding Medicaid is a key part of the solution to our nation’s maternal health crisis.
The Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services Act of 2019 (H.R.4996) would incentivize state-level Medicaid extension to the entire postpartum period and invest in maternal-specific public health. This bipartisan bill would provide a one-year, 5 percentage point Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) enhancement to incentivize extension.
Currently, the majority of pregnancy-related deaths in America happen after the day of delivery, and nearly one-quarter of deaths happen more than six weeks postpartum. Yet despite the life-threatening risks that women face in the postpartum period, Medicaid currently only covers women for two months after the birth of their baby.
States that expand Medicaid improve the health of women of childbearing age by increasing access to preventive care, reducing adverse health outcomes before, during and after pregnancies, and reducing maternal mortality rates. Better health for women of childbearing age also means better health for their infants. States that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act saw a 50 percent greater reduction in infant mortality than non-expansion states.
Expanding Medicaid would be a crucial lifeline and lifesaver for many birthing people and their babies. Please prioritize the health of mothers and infants across the country by supporting HR 4996.