By Robert O'Connor and Amy Ferguson, The Messenger, March 15, 2021
Like the rest of the United States, Iowa is facing a maternal health crisis. The maternal mortality rate in Iowa has almost doubled in recent years and significant racial disparities exist. Black mothers in Iowa have a pregnancy-related maternal mortality over six times higher than their white counterparts.
But Iowa lawmakers have the chance to pass legislation that could reduce maternal mortality rates and improve outcomes for mothers. Extending the Medicaid postpartum coverage period from the current 60 days to a full 12 months is the simplest and most targeted way to ensure that new mothers can get the care they need to help keep them and their baby healthy.
With four out of every 10 births in Iowa covered by Medicaid, the state’s public health insurance program plays a critical role in making sure Iowans have access to the high-quality care that they need. Currently Medicaid eligibility changes 60 days after the mother gives birth. Eligibility drops from 375% of the federal poverty level to 138% of federal poverty level and many women lose insurance coverage.