Senate OKs extending Iowa Medicaid postpartum coverage

DES MOINES — The Iowa Senate has approved Governor Kim Reynolds’ proposal to extend pregnancy-related Medicaid coverage for 12 months rather than just 60 days after a baby is born.

Senator Mark Costello, a Republican from Imogene, says it’s a way to help new mothers in low income households who need care.  “We’ve found that not all the difficulties or medical needs that happen with pregnancy happen within the first two months,” Costello says, “so we want to enable those women to get the coverage for the full year.”

The bill got the backing of 31 Republicans and three Democrats. Governor Kim Reynolds says extending postpartum care to 12 months for women with the greatest need helps them recover from childbirth, access family planning services, manage chronic health issues, and address mental health. Thirteen Democrats opposed the bill because it also would lower income limits for the coverage, so the state would spend about the same amount of money in Medicaid for postpartum care.

Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, says it means about a thousand Iowa women each month who’d get pregnancy care under current income guidelines won’t get it.  “This is not a time to step backwards on maternal health care,” Petersen says. “…The budget process hasn’t really gotten started yet. There’s still time to do right by pregnant women and their babies in this state.”

The maternal mortality rate represents the number of women who die during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth and that rate has been rising nationally and in Iowa.