Move to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage in Kansas to give mom, baby better outcomes

Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 3:34 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - With Kansas’ new budget freshly inked, the American Heart Association is applauding the move to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage and said it will give mom and baby a better outcome.

With the passage of Kansas’ new state budget for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023 on Wednesday, the American Heart Association says it applauds Governor Laura Kelly and the Legislature for including the extension of Medicaid postpartum coverage to protect the health of Kansas moms and babies.

“Pregnancy is often the first time many women see a physician on a regular basis, and these regular visits provide an opportunity to address chronic and pregnancy-related health conditions including diabetes and high blood pressure,” said Kari Rinker, Kansas government relations director for the American Heart Association. “We all want babies to have the best possible start in life. Ensuring the expectant parent has access to care during pregnancy and for the first year after giving birth is essential for providing a healthy and successful start.”

AHA said the provision of continued access to medical care during the first year after birth ensures new mothers stay healthy and prepared to take on the responsibility of raising a child.

The Association noted that heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death of pregnant women during the first year following pregnancy.

“Medicaid plays an important role in improving maternal and perinatal outcomes,” said Sapphire Garcia-Lies, Founder and President of Wichita Birth Justice Society. “Timely postpartum visits provide an opportunity to address chronic and pregnancy-related health conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension; mental health status, including postpartum depression; and substance use disorders.”

According to the AHA, the extension to fund Medicaid from the current 60 days postpartum to 12 months after birth is important to address health issues discovered during pregnancy or resulting from pregnancy. It said the move will allow the following:

  • Lower-income pregnant women to obtain comprehensive care coverage so they can get all of the health care services they need to be healthy during and following pregnancy
  • Better birth outcomes due to fewer costly medical complications during pregnancy
  • Lower risk of health problems for the baby during infancy and long-term benefits throughout growth and development
  • A higher rate of women are more likely to seek well-child visits and immunizations for their children
  • Assistance with early identification and treatment of postpartum depression, quitting smoking, preventing violence, and treating substance use disorders

“The KanCare postpartum coverage extension is a tangible policy to help address necessary mental health care access,” said Salym Soderholm new mom, artist and birth justice advocate. “My personal need for help with my postpartum depression wasn’t diagnosed until my first post-pregnancy checkup at six weeks, which would have left me with only two weeks of coverage under the existing traditional Medicaid rules. Thanks to this extension, women like me will get the care they need for a full year after giving birth, making healthier moms and babies.”

Collectively, AHA said it appreciates the efforts to improve maternal health and the health of children and families in the Sunflower State.

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