The September 2013 issue of Women’s Health Issues reported that almost half of the births in the United States are paid for by Medicaid and this is without Medicaid expansion being rolled out. In January 26 states will expand Medicaid and coverage guidelines will allow more women to be eligible for Medicaid.
Under the current system most women are not eligible for Medicaid until they become pregnant and then they lose coverage 60 days after giving birth. The expanded Medicaid eligibility in half of the states will provide more women coverage options before, during and after pregnancy.
One of the key indicators of positive birth outcomes is prenatal care. It seems logical that birth outcomes would improve in women who have coverage prior to becoming pregnant. The healthier a woman is prior to becoming pregnant the more likely she is to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. Access to health care through expanded Medicaid is a good first step in improving birth outcomes across the country.
Let’s hope Missouri Legislators can begin to look past partisan politics and see the value of expanding Medicaid to protect some of the most vulnerable citizens in our states, citizens like the baby born to a mother who doesn’t have appropriate access to health care prior to and after her pregnancy.