Protecting Maternal Health: Women's Health Professionals Join Health Committee Chairs to Call for Extended Medicaid Eligibility

February 12, 2020

Albany, NY – State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, advocates, and health care provider associations gathered today to call on the Legislature to pass the "Beyond the Fourth Trimester" bill, S.7147-A/A.9156 which would extend postpartum coverage for mothers from 60 days to one year after giving birth. The bill recently passed both houses' Health Committees and has the support of physicians, midwives, hospitals, and advocates for improving reproductive health and reducing health care racial disparities.

New York's maternal mortality rate is alarmingly high at almost 20 deaths per 100,000 live births, and black women are three times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white women (51.6 deaths per 100,000 live births compared to 15.9). Increasing access to health care would prevent many of these deaths and improve child health outcomes. Several states have taken steps to extend their postpartum Medicaid coverage, and there are multiple Federal bills that would enable states to receive Federal matching dollars for the full year of continuous coverage if signed.

"We know access to health care is one of the most important drivers of wellbeing regardless of income," said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried. "When a new mother loses access to all health care services only 60 days after giving birth, she is much more likely to suffer from potentially fatal complications and other conditions that affect not only her, but also her child. As pediatricians say, "The most important factor in the health of the child is the health of the mother." Extending coverage beyond 60 days is critical to improve family health outcomes and eliminating racial disparities in maternal mortality and morbidity."

"Today, we are calling on the Legislature to pass this critical bill that will expand Medicaid coverage to more new mothers as they start navigating their delicate postpartum journey," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chair of the Senate Health Committee. "As we continue to implement concrete measures to reduce our State's high rate of maternal mortality, I am proud to sponsor a bill that will allow new moms to access the physical and mental health care services and support they need postpartum. I look forward to working with Assembly Member Gottfried to pass this bill and make it a reality in New York State."

"The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) District II envisions a new paradigm for women's health care which recognizes pregnancy as a window into a woman's future health. ACOG strongly supports A. 9156 and S. 7147-A, championed by Assembly Member Gottfried and Senator Rivera," said Christa Christakis, Executive Director of ACOG District II. "Women's health care needs do not end when a pregnancy does. This legislation ensures that women receiving care through Medicaid can continue to address health issues that arise during pregnancy, including conditions that may impact long-term health. Pregnancy-related death can occur up until one year after pregnancy, and as we work to curb maternal mortality and morbidity in our state, keeping women connected to high quality health care is vital."

"New York State Midwives support A.9156/S.7147-A and thank Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and Senator Gustavo Rivera for their continued championing of women's health. New York is in the midst of a maternal mortality crisis, and approximately 52% of all maternal deaths occur in the postpartum period," said the New York Association of Licensed Midwives. "This bill's extension of Medicaid coverage to one year postpartum recognizes that postpartum recovery is an ongoing process that is intricately intertwined with a woman's pre-and post-pregnancy health, and sets the stage for long-term health and wellbeing."

"New York State American Academy of Pediatrics enthusiastically supports Assemblyman Gottfried and Senator Rivera's legislation extending Medicaid coverage for eligible pregnant women for a full year after the Medicaid covered birth," said Elie Ward, MSW, Director of Policy & Advocacy for the New York State American Academy of Pediatrics Chapters 1, 2, and 3. "It is imperative that both mother and child have comprehensive health care coverage during a child's first year of life to assure that both mother and child get the care they need during this critical time. An ill mom, whether physically, emotionally or due to substance abuse, cannot take proper care of her child."

"This is a pivotal moment in centering the well-being and humanity of pregnant people in New York," said Chanel L. Porchia- Albert, CD, CPD, CLC, CHHC, Founder/Executive Director of Ancient Song Doula Services. "I hope that by extending Medicaid coverage for up to one year, we are able to humanize the postpartum experience as normal and support new mothers' mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing as they transition into parenthood. When we support the parent, we are supporting the child and cultivating a community that uplifts every New Yorker."

"Extending Medicaid through at least 12 months, as this legislation provides, would ensure access to services such as treatment for postpartum depression and chronic conditions that are essential for the well-being of mothers, as well as the health of their babies. We strongly support this legislation and urge its enactment this session," said KrisEmily McCrory, MD, Director of the New York State Academy of Family Physicians.

"The American College of Physicians calls for implementation of policies to prevent pregnancy-related death and improve maternal outcomes in the United States," said Louis Snitkoff, MD, FACP, President of the New York Chapter of the American College of Physicians. "Expanding postpartum Medicaid eligibility is essential to achieving these objectives, and we are pleased to support Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and Senator Gustavo Rivera in their advocacy on behalf of women in New York."

"In the face of a continuing crisis of maternal mortality, and a federal administration that has made it perfectly clear that it does not care about the health of women or mothers, New York is standing with residents who need health care at an especially vulnerable time, and recognizing that reproductive health care does not end when someone gives birth," said Danielle Castaldi-Micca, Vice-President of Political and Government Affairs at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. "Cycling on, off and between insurance programs is particularly risky in the perinatal or post-partum periods. The legislation proposed by Senator Rivera and Assembly Member Gottfried will ensure healthier moms, healthier babies, and a healthier, more equitable New York."

"No one can dispute the fact that our maternal mortality rate is unacceptably high," said Robin Chapelle Golston, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts. "More than half of pregnancy-related deaths happen after delivery. While Medicaid covers approximately half of the births in New York - coverage ends before the threat of maternal mortality does. Experts agree, ensuring women have health care coverage following their pregnancy improves their health outcomes. We owe it to women to support them through the entire process, and that includes comprehensive postpartum care. This is an investment that will save lives and give more children the opportunity to grow up with their mothers."

"There is no excuse for a state like New York in 2020 to have a maternal mortality crisis, especially one that disproportionately impacts Black women," said Katharine Bodde, Senior Policy Counsel at the New York Civil Liberties Union. "Expanding Medicaid coverage after pregnancy is a critical step to improving women's health outcomes. New York women and their families should not have to suffer when pregnancy-related deaths can be prevented."