Biden signs Ill. waiver to extend health care coverage for new moms

Biden signs Ill. waiver to extend health care coverage for new moms
U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and other U.S. representatives applauded the Biden Administration for approving and signing Illinois’ 1115 waiver on Monday. (Source: kfda)

WASHINGTON (KFVS) - U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and other U.S. representatives applauded the Biden Administration for approving and signing Illinois’ 1115 waiver on Monday.

This waiver will extend health care coverage for new moms on Medicaid in Illinois from 60 days after pregnancy to a full year. 

In February 2020, representatives led 14 members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation in sending a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), requesting approval for Illinois’ effort to expand Medicaid coverage for new moms.

Durbin and other representatives have introduced the bicameral Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness (MOMMA’s) Act.

The act seeks to improve maternal and infant health outcomes, especially for women and babies of color.

One of the main provisions of this legislation is ensuring that new moms can remain on Medicaid health coverage for a full year after their pregnancy, versus just 60 days. 

The American Rescue Plan included a provision to give states a five-year option to extend health care coverage for new moms on Medicaid from 60 days after pregnancy to a full year.  

In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this provision will help improve and save the lives of new mothers—especially women of color who are at increased risk of serious complications, or even death, because of their pregnancy.

“Today’s announcement is welcome news to new moms, but especially new moms of color, who are six times more likely than white women in Illinois to die because of their pregnancy,” Durbin said.  “Cutting off health coverage for new mothers just two months after they give birth—especially in the midst of a pandemic—is both dangerous and short-sighted.  But thanks to today’s action by the Biden Administration, this common sense and widely supported policy will help save the lives of babies and mothers across Illinois.”

The United States is one of only 13 countries in the world where the maternal mortality rate is worse now that it was 25 years ago and is the only industrialized country with a rising maternal mortality rate. 

On average, maternal mortality claims the lives of about 700 American moms each year—an additional 70,000 women suffer near-fatal health complications—with more than 60 percent of these deaths being preventable. 

Women of color are particularly at risk—nationwide, Black women are more than three times as likely than white women to suffer pregnancy-related deaths.

Maternal and infant mortality is especially important to Illinois families. 

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), on average, 73 new Illinois mothers die every year, with more than 70 percent of these deaths deemed preventable.

According to the IDPH, Black mothers in Illinois die at 600 percent the rate of their white counterparts.

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