SC House budget seeks to expand postpartum Medicaid care

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A proposal in the SC House budget includes extending postpartum care under Medicaid to one year instead of 60 days.

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About 5,000 new mothers in South Carolina who receive Medicaid could see their postpartum health coverage extended under a proposal in the House budget proposal.

Under an amendment proposed by State Representative Bill Herbkersman, R-Beaufort, mothers who earn between 67% and 199% of the federal poverty level could retain their postpartum coverage for 12 months. Coverage traditionally ends after 60 days.

“Studies have shown that the majority of infant mortality cases occur between days 61 and 365 after the birth of a child,” Herbkersman said.

The amendment was included in the House version of the budget as a reserve, a one-year law attached to the state’s annual spending plan.

House members passed their 2021-22 budget bill on June 9. The Senate adopted its version of the next year’s spending plan in April. A group of six lawmakers, three from the House and three from the Senate are working to reconcile differences in spending plans for the next fiscal year which begins July 1.

In 2019, the state Department of Health and Human Services had already asked the federal government to extend Medicaid coverage to pregnant women and those who have just given birth. However, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services have only approved a narrower version to provide coverage for new mothers who have been diagnosed with substance use disorder or severe mental illness and whose income was lower. at 199% of the federal poverty line.

CMS has pledged to work with the state to allow extended postpartum coverage for more people.

As part of the US federal bailout, the COVID-19 relief plan signed by President Joe Biden in March, all states have the option to extend postpartum coverage to one year.

“Extending postpartum coverage to one year after childbirth will help improve health outcomes for new mothers, as the majority of pregnancy-related deaths occur more than 60 days after childbirth and will remove an effect deterrent on new mothers returning to work, ”said Robby Kerr, director of SC Health and Human Services.

The US bailout also provided additional incentives for states to expand Medicaid to cover people whose incomes are too high to be eligible for Medicaid, but too low to be eligible for savings in the health insurance market. However, South Carolina refused to take this step.

This story was originally published June 16, 2021 12:24 pm.

Joseph Bustos is a state government and state political journalist. A graduate of Northwestern University, he previously worked in Illinois covering government and politics. He has won reportage awards in Illinois and Missouri. He moved to South Carolina in November 2019.
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