Medicaid postpartum extension is moving through legislature
Update 2/7/23: The bill that would extend coverage of postpartum medical care to 12 months has passed its second reading in the House.
Rep. Steve Harshman (R-Casper) said in debate supporting this bill is a pro-life stance.
"We’re trying to prevent abortion. I see this as the poor mothers who didn’t go across the border to abort their babies," said Harsman on the house floor.
Yet, other Representatives spoke in debate that there are other ways to support these women besides federal funding.
A bill that extends medicaid coverage to qualifying pregnant women for 12 months postpartum narrowly made it out of committee.
The House Labor, Health and Social Services committee members heard hours of testimony in favor of the extension. During the pandemic, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allowed states to extend postpartum care, and Wyoming participated as well so qualifying women had complete medical coverage for a year after they gave birth. This bill would extend that care until 2027.
Out of nine members, four voted against it saying it was because the state shouldn’t have more federal ties and because they said there are other other options of coverage for these women. Representative Sarah Penn (R-Lander) voted no.
“The potential for having those federal ties,” said Penn. “We no longer have a say in how we run our state and how we have our healthcare.”
Those who voted in favor remarked on the testimonies given by healthcare practitioners, organizations as well as the Diocese of Cheyenne and a representative of Gov. Mark Gordon. They all remarked on how women who have just given birth may succumb to postpartum depression and rare health problems, many of which don’t appear until after two months postpartum.
“What insurance coverage does, importantly, is that it drives patients to the right place of care at the right time,” said Josh Hannes with the Wyoming Hospital Association. “So a lot of uncompensated care or, to some degree the uncompensated care we see, is people of no option to be in the proper setting of care and they show up in our emergency rooms…But that’s not an appropriate setting care for most things and we want to make sure people have access.”
According to a report by the Wyoming Legislative Service Office, a third of mothers who give birth are covered by Medicaid. Before there were extended benefits, 70 percent of those women lost health insurance three months after giving birth. The bill now goes to the house floor.