by Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press
Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn says he opposes efforts to revive a proposal that would let mothers keep Medicaid coverage for a year after giving birth.
“My position on the postpartum thing has not changed,” Gunn, a Republican, told reporters Tuesday at the Capitol.
Mississippi allows two months of Medicaid coverage for women after they give birth. Advocates for low-income women say expanding the government insurance coverage up to a year could improve health outcomes in a state with a high rate of maternal mortality.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted 46-5 on Feb. 2 to pass Senate Bill 2033 to authorize a year of postpartum coverage. The bill passed the House Medicaid Committee on March 1 but died last week when Gunn and House Medicaid Committee Chairman Joey Hood chose not to bring it up for a vote before a deadline.
Republican. Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said Monday that he wants to revive an effort to extend postpartum coverage, calling it “a good-faith effort to keep our babies healthy and our mothers healthy.”
Gunn told The Associated Press last week that he did not want anything that would appear to be a broader expansion of Medicaid. Mississippi is one of a dozen states that have not expanded Medicaid to working people whose jobs do not provide health insurance.
The expansion is an option under the federal health overhaul signed into law by then-President Barack Obama in 2010.
About 60% of births in Mississippi in 2020 were financed by Medicaid, according to Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization that tracks health statistics. Only Louisiana had a higher rate, at 61%.
The Mississippi State Department of Health issued a report in April 2019 about maternal mortality in the state from 2013 to 2016. A committee of physicians, nurses and others examined deaths that occurred during pregnancy or up to one year of the end of pregnancy, and it recommended expanding postpartum Medicaid coverage to a full year.
The report said that, for those years, Mississippi had 33.2 deaths per 100,000 live births, which was 1.9 times higher than the U.S. ratio of 17.3 deaths per 100,000 live births.
The report also found the Black women had 51.9 deaths per 100,000 live births. The numbers for white women were 18.9 deaths per 100,000 live births.