Missouri’s access to full-year of postpartum Medicaid benefits extended

State becomes 40th to be approved for extension of coverage
Missouri's Medicaid program is administered by MO HealthNet, which is headquartered in...
Missouri's Medicaid program is administered by MO HealthNet, which is headquartered in Jefferson City.(Missouri Bureau)
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 5:28 PM CST
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KFVS) - U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday, November 14 that Missouri was approved to extend its comprehensive Medicaid coverage for postpartum individuals over the first 12 months.

The move was possible because of a bill signed by Pres. Joe Biden in December, which cemented a key section of the American Rescue Plan Act.

“I applaud Missouri’s decision to extend postpartum coverage for a full year after delivery. Today’s announcement marks another important milestone in the effort to confront the nation’s maternal mortality and morbidity crisis,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

DawnElyn Schneider serves as chief network development and population health officer for Central Ozarks Medical Centers, a non-profit network of clinics in southwest Missouri. Schneider said roughly 70% of COMC’s pregnant patients are covered by Medicaid.

“I really do think we will see a an improvement of health outcomes for our maternal and postpartum patients,” said Schneider.

An August report from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services showed between 2018 and 2020, an average of 70 pregnant women died per year, with 2020 seeing the largest amount, 85 deaths.

Even more troubling, 84% of those deaths were determined to be preventable including those caused by substance-use disorder and other mental health conditions.

Schneider said being able to address these serious problems earlier in the postpartum period helps make two lives healthier instead of just one.

“This 12-month extension is going to come at a cost savings for the state as a whole, recognizing that we are able to address those health concerns earlier before they become a crisis,” Schneider said.

According to DHSS, a new initiative called the Maternal Mortality Prevention Plan will be announced in the coming days, based on legislation signed by Governor Mike Parson in July.