Phoenixville, PA − February 25, 2022 − The co-chairs of the Pennsylvania Women’s Health Caucus (WHC) hosted a press conference today at Tower Health in Phoenixville to applaud the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ decision to opt in our Medicaid program for postpartum individuals.
“As a public health expert, it is important that we prioritize our resources in ways that will ensure better health outcomes for all Pennsylvanians,” said Senator Amanda M. Cappelletti (D-17 Montgomery/Delaware) and co-chair of the Women’s Health Caucus. “Birthing individuals can experience health complications up to one year postpartum and beyond. By extending Medicaid coverage to one year, we are improving maternal mortality and morbidity, improving childhood health outcomes, and ensuring a healthy start for Pennsylvania families.”
As part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, this provides a federal option for states to extend Medicaid coverage for postpartum individuals from 60 days to one year. The program will start on April 1, 2022 and be available for five years in Pennsylvania.
“It’s clear that 60 days of postpartum coverage is not only insufficient, it’s also dangerous,” said Senator Judy Schwank (D-11 Berks) and co-chair of the Women’s Health Caucus. “By extending postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 12 months, Pennsylvania is seizing a major opportunity to address the shocking rate of postpartum morbidity and mortality we are seeing. Opt-In PA raises awareness about this decision, which will undoubtedly save lives, and encourages everyone to join the Women’s Health Caucus in our fight to address the maternal mortality crisis with the urgency it deserves.”
“Along with my colleagues in the Women’s Health Caucus, I am grateful that Pennsylvania is taking this important step in the right direction by extending postpartum coverage for Medicaid patients from the current 60 days to a full 12 months,” said Representative Mary Jo Daley (D-148 Montgomery) and co-chair of the Women’s Health Caucus.
“Extending Medicaid coverage to one year postpartum will benefit all Pennsylvania families, especially those in communities of color where maternal mortality is significantly more prevalent,” said Senator Carolyn Comitta (D-19 Chester) and member of the Women’s Health Caucus. “The first year postpartum is a crucial time for new mothers, parents, and babies. Expanded coverage under Medicaid will not only save lives. It also means more time and more opportunity to focus on recovery from childbirth, mental health, preventative care, self-care, and overall wellness as families adjust to the new roles, joys, and challenges that come with a new baby.”
“As DHS seeks to enhance supports available to perinatal and parenting families, this extension of postpartum Medicaid coverage will help new moms continue to access physical and behavioral health care necessary to keep themselves healthy and their families on a path to good health and well-being,” said DHS Senior Advisor Sara Goulet. “We cannot leave mothers alone during such a vulnerable and foundational time for their child’s and their own futures. Moms, babies, and all parents raising children deserve more, and this is our opportunity to continue to do better.”
“Statistics show that over half of the postpartum maternal deaths happen after the current 60 day Medicaid coverage after giving birth,” said Representative Melissa Shusterman (D-157 Chester/Montgomery) and member of the Women’s Health Caucus. “Opting in to the Maternal Medicaid Extension offered through the American Rescue plan is a simple way that we can address postpartum mortality deaths in Pennsylvania. This is a commonsense decision that will save lives.”
“As an OBGYN, I have seen firsthand how a lapse in access to medical care affects women and families,” said Dr. Carlene Denis, MD, Phoenixville Hospital Medical Staff President Elect and OB/GYN with Axia Women’s Health – Valley Forge. “Extending coverage can help meet our current maternal health needs and protect our most vulnerable. Moms can’t wait.”
To learn more about this program, you can visit the Department of Human Services’ website.
If you missed our press conference, view the livestream here.