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As Roe’s Future Hangs in the Balance, Many States Extend Health Coverage For New Moms

As Roe’s Future Hangs in the Balance, Many States Extend Health Coverage For New Moms

As Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) races to codify Roe v. Wade, at least seven states are extending their healthcare coverage for new mothers in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn women’s constitutional right to abortion.

The expansion of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program makes the coverage more urgently needed than ever if more women, especially older women or those in poorer health, end up carrying pregnancies to term.

States are currently required to provide 60 days of coverage after childbirth, but medical experts say women can die from pregnancy-related conditions up to a year after giving birth and that most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. Maternal mortality is particularly serious for Black women, whose pregnancy-related death rate is three times that of white women.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced on Friday that Tennessee and South Carolina are joining Louisiana, Michigan, Virginia, New Jersey, and Illinois in extending postpartum coverage from 60 days to 12 months. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is working with another nine states and the District of Columbia to extend coverage. In Tennessee, a trigger law would outlaw abortion in the state if Roe v. Wade were overturned. South Carolina has a law banning most abortions after six weeks, and Republican Gov. Henry McMaster has said he would be willing to recall lawmakers to consider further restrictions, were Roe to be overturned.

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American women are far more likely to die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth than women in 10 other economically advanced countries, according to a Commonwealth Fund study. Countries that fare better include Canada, Germany, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Lack of post-partum care in the U.S. was seen as a part of the problem.

Also on Friday, Becerra announced the launch of a new $3 million Maternal Mental Health Hotline. The service is free, confidential, and will operate 24 hours a day. The hotline will launch this Sunday, on Mother’s Day. Pregnant women and new mothers can reach counselors for mental health support by calling or texting 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS.

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