Maine is among the first states to provide full-year postpartum insurance to improve maternal and child health.
Augusta, Maine – Governor Janet Mills today announced that her administration will extend Medicaid postpartum health coverage from 60 days postpartum to 12 months. The federal government today approved a request from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to extend coverage from August 1, 2022.
The move aims to improve maternal health and ensure that women do not lose access to postpartum care, which includes postpartum recovery, follow-up for pregnancy complications, chronic disease management, access to family planning, and mental health care. . It is estimated that an additional 2,000 women per year in Maine will have access to health insurance throughout the year after giving birth due to the move. In 2020, 39 percent of all births in Maine were covered by MaineCare, Maine’s Medicaid program.
The American rescue plan has given states the ability to expand postpartum coverage from the federally required minimum of 60 days to 12 months through an amendment to the state plan. At the state level, LD 1781—a law authored by Senator Ann Carney (D-Cape Elizabeth)—authorized the Mills administration to seek such increased insurance coverage from the federal government.
“The need for medical care related to pregnancy does not disappear sixty days after delivery.” Gov. Janet Mills said. “This move will provide women with access to postpartum care throughout the year, which will improve their health and the health of their children, setting them both up for future success. This is another example of my administration’s commitment to supporting women’s reproductive health in Maine.”
“Scaling up support for mothers not only improves health, it also saves taxpayer dollars by supporting preventive care this critical year.” said Jeanne Lambru, commissioner for the Department of Health and Human Services. “This builds on Maine’s successful policy of continuing coverage for children in MaineCare for one year.”
“Improving access to high-quality postpartum care is one of the most important investments we can make in the health of our families,” U.S. Senator Angus King and U.S. Representative Chelly Pingree said. “Governor Mills’ decision to expand Medicaid postpartum care to 12 months postpartum will give thousands of mothers the support they deserve in times of need and will make a huge difference to Maine’s rural and low-income communities. We are pleased that the Governor continues to put American Rescue Plan funds to good use and look forward to seeing how this expanded assistance will improve the health of Maine families.”
“A full year of postpartum coverage under the MaineCare program will keep miners healthy during a period of medical vulnerability for themselves and their newborns,” Senator Ann Carney of Cumberland County said. “I’m so glad, as the sponsor of the bill, that Meng has joined the nationwide effort to reduce the high maternal mortality rate.”
“I am very pleased to see that this coverage has been approved by the federal government,” Eliot Representative Michelle Meyer, chairman of the House Committee on Health and Human Services, said. “Ensuring young mothers have access to health care while they recover and start raising their children will improve their health and, importantly, the health of their newborn.”
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, experts agree that postpartum care is an ongoing process that typically includes multiple visits and follow-ups that exceed the arbitrary 60-day coverage limit.
Expanding health care coverage will ensure the stability of treatment, which is important for those who experience complications during pregnancy, chronic diseases or mental health problems. The move comes at a time when, Kaiser says, studies show that suicidal tendencies among pregnant women and postpartum women have increased over the past decade, with at least one in 10 women experiencing perinatal depression. What’s more, other studies point to higher rates of postpartum depression but worse access to treatment among women of color and low-income women.
Maine joins Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Michigan, Louisiana, Kentucky, Oregon, Virginia, New Jersey, Illinois, California, New Mexico, Minnesota and the District of Columbia in expanding Medicaid and CHIP coverage from 60 days to 12 months postpartum .