426: Medicaid for Post-Partum People, Women’s Health Policy Statement

Sowmya Kuruganti, ASTHO Public Health Analyst, explains how Medicaid expansion could increase access to care for postpartum people; Sanaa Akbarali, ASTHO Senior Director of Maternal and Infant Health, says a renewed ASTHO policy statement addresses...

Sowmya Kuruganti, ASTHO Public Health Analyst, explains how Medicaid expansion could increase access to care for postpartum people; Sanaa Akbarali, ASTHO Senior Director of Maternal and Infant Health, says a renewed ASTHO policy statement addresses ways to prevent maternal mortality and morbidity; ASTHO has a blog on the debt ceiling negotiations in Congress; and online tickets are still available for ASTHO’s TechXpo and Futures Forum.


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Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Policy Statement

The Debt Ceiling Discussion Greatly Impacts Public Health

Public Health TechXpo and Futures Forum


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This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Tuesday, May 23, 2023. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.



So the postpartum period is a time of significant vulnerability for new parents that's filled with physical, emotional, and mental health challenges.


ASTHO's Sowmya Kuruganti is tracking states that have extended or are debating extension of Medicaid coverage for postpartum people.


So this year of postpartum coverage that is being proposed can also help protect new moms from medical debt and ensure that they have time to seek care for any postpartum health issues they might face, such as postpartum depression, and it allows them to do so hopefully without a need to transition to new coverage or find a new provider.


Kuruganti says at least 38 states have extended Medicaid coverage to 12 months postpartum for this population. She says early data gathered during the pandemic indicates people need the help.


During the COVID-19 public health emergency, continuous coverage protection under Medicaid was in effect. And this really allowed folks to see what it would be like for continuous coverage under Medicaid for postpartum women, what effect this might have if 12-month postpartum coverage was mandatory. And in some recently released CMS data, they showed that the pregnant women eligibility group saw the greatest percentage increase in enrollment of any category.


Kuruganti says state data offers a similar result.


I think some states such as in Texas, there was a study analyzing Medicaid claims and researchers found that women who gave birth between March and December 2020 use twice as many postpartum services.


The bottom line, according to Kuruganti:


All of this shows that when coverage is available to women postpartum in this 12-month period, there is interest in utilizing services during this time period.


Read more about work to extend Medicaid coverage for postpartum people in a new ASTHO blog article. There's a link in the show notes.


Public health leaders are increasingly concerned for the health of women in the United States. Sanaa Akbarali says ASTHO recently renewed its maternal mortality and morbidity policy statement.


The policy statement allows us to to affirm that preventing maternal mortality and morbidity is critical to promoting access across the lifespan. And this is best accomplished by addressing the social, economic, and healthcare issues and barriers that impact women's health at multiple levels, and identifying upstream causes of negative outcomes rooted in the social determinants of health.


Akbarali says the statement includes a long list of recommendations to address the crisis,


Developing and sustaining partnerships that address the social determinants of health; supporting preconception health and reproductive life course planning; optimizing and assuring opportunities for early entry into prenatal care and continuous care throughout pregnancy; providing behavioral mental health, substance use disorder, and intimate partner violence screening, referral, and treatment; ensuring coordination to understand causes of maternal deaths and implement consistent maternity care; and, of course, enhancing the maternal care workforce and expanding improving services, including leveraging midwives and doulas.


The ASTHO statement is meant to be a tool for leaders working to have an impact in their jurisdictions.


And really this helps to equip health officials as they're addressing maternal mortality and morbidity in their state with recommendations that health agencies can implement to prevent and support positive maternal health outcomes.


There are two links associated with this story in the show notes today. One takes you to an article summarizing ASTHO strategies, the other will allow you to download the ASTHO policy statement.


Also today, ASTHO members are keeping close watch on the debt ceiling debate taking place here in Washington, D.C. ASTHO has written a blog about the negotiations. You can read it using the link in the show notes.


Finally this morning, ASTHO's TechXpo begins today in Chicago and there is still time to get an online ticket to three days of discussions about public health and technology. Sign up now using the link in the show notes.


That'll do it for today's newscast. We're back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Sowmya Kuruganti MPH

Analyst, Family and Child Health, ASTHO

Sanaa Akbarali MPH

Senior Director, Maternal and Infant Health, ASTHO