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Missouri Senate advances postpartum health care for women

by Emma J. Murphy | February 23, 2023 at 4:01 a.m.

An extension for health care services provided through Medicaid for postpartum women was approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

Sen. Elaine Gannon, R-De Soto, proposed a bill that would extend MO HealthNet coverage for women to one year postpartum. Gannon proposed similar legislation last session, but it was not voted off the Senate floor.

Current law limits the benefits to 60 days after childbirth.

The bill was perfected Tuesday by the Senate. It faces an additional vote before being sent to the House for consideration.

Missouri ranks 37 out of the 50 states for the health of women and children. According to the Missouri Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review, Missouri had 2,445 cases of maternal morbidity for an average of 118 deaths per 10,000 live births between 2017 and 2019. This rate rises to 138 deaths per live birth for Black women, over double the rate for white women.

The senators discussed a substitute to the original bill that clarifies language regarding who is eligible for the benefits.

The substitute excludes women who are not residents of Missouri as well as women who receive services in violation of state law, like an abortion. The bill would allow for pregnancies ending in miscarriage or attempts to save the mother's life eligible for the healthcare extension.

Sen. Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette, inquired of multiple senators about the language of the bill.

"I would hate for this language to be what sinks this bill and then a year from now, we're just back here having the same discussion," McCreery said. "But in the meantime, 45 new moms have died because they didn't have the healthcare they needed."

The work of the Missouri News Network is written by Missouri School of Journalism students and editors for publication by Missouri Press Association member newspapers.

Print Headline: Senate advances postpartum health care for women

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