CMS Approves 12-month Extension of Postpartum Coverage in Washington State
Up to 12,000 new parents now gain access to vital care after pregnancy, thanks to American Rescue Plan and Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to strengthen maternal health
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), approved Washington state’s extension of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage for 12 months after pregnancy. As a result, up to an additional 12,000 people annually will now have access to Medicaid or CHIP coverage for a full year after pregnancy. With today’s approval, an estimated 265,000 Americans annually in 15 states and D.C. have gained access to 12 months of postpartum coverage.
Last week, the White House released the Biden-Harris Administration’s Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis, a whole-of-government approach to combatting maternal mortality and morbidity. For far too many people, complications related to pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum can lead to devastating health outcomes — including hundreds of deaths each year. This maternal health crisis is particularly devastating for Black and American Indian and Alaska Native people, and those in rural communities who all experience maternal mortality and morbidity at significantly higher rates than their white and urban counterparts. Today’s action is a part of the Administration’s ongoing efforts to address maternal health disparities and improve health outcomes.
“Access to postpartum care not only saves lives, but also leads to better long-term health outcomes for both the parents and their newborns,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, states can take advantage of extending this critical care for a year after pregnancy. I applaud Washington for joining the increasing number of states working with the Administration to foster healthy families across the nation, and encourage others to join our efforts.”
“Washington is the latest — and certainly not the last — state to recognize the importance of extending postpartum coverage for a full 12 months,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “The American Rescue Plan gives states an easier pathway to support the health and well-being of postpartum women and families — particularly during the vital first year after pregnancy.”
This extension of coverage was made possible by a new state plan opportunity established by the American Rescue Plan Act. Washington is the sixteenth location to be approved to extend Medicaid and CHIP coverage from 60 days to 12 months after pregnancy, joining California; Florida; Illinois; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Michigan; Minnesota; New Jersey; New Mexico; Oregon; South Carolina; Tennessee; Virginia; and Washington, D.C.
CMS continues working to extend coverage for 12 months after pregnancy in other states that have submitted extension proposals, including Connecticut, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. If all states adopted this option, as many as 720,000 people across the United States annually could be guaranteed Medicaid and CHIP coverage for 12 months after pregnancy.
Medicaid covers 42% of all births in the nation. This new option for states to extend Medicaid and CHIP postpartum coverage is part of the ongoing efforts of HHS and the Biden-Harris Administration to address disparities in maternal health outcomes by opening the door to postpartum care for hundreds of thousands of people.
As noted in a report published by the HHS Office of Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, one in three pregnancy-related deaths occur between one week and one year after childbirth. The postpartum period is critical for recovering from childbirth, addressing complications of delivery, ensuring mental health, managing infant care, and transitioning from obstetric to primary care.