The American Heart Association applauds the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) expansion of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) postpartum coverage in Virginia. This change will affect approximately 6,000 Virginians and will allow Medicaid and CHIP participants to keep their coverage for 12 months instead of just 60 days, or regain coverage within that 12-month period after childbirth. This will improve and expand access to needed pregnancy-related care, with the goal of preventing unnecessary postpartum-related illnesses and deaths. Individuals with chronic medical conditions and those that develop adverse pregnancy outcomes, particularly those with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP), need close clinical monitoring as new diagnosis of chronic hypertension after pregnancy often cannot be made until far beyond the typical 6 weeks postpartum follow-up period. More than one-third of maternal deaths occur in the postpartum period, and Black women suffer three to four times more pregnancy-related deaths than white women.
“Becoming a parent comes with its own set of unique challenges, and new moms shouldn’t have to worry about accessing care for themselves while adjusting to their new family additions,” said Michelle Nostheide, Executive Director of the American Heart Association’s office in Richmond. “It’s important that Virginia takes proactive action to provide and expand access to life-saving postpartum coverage and care, and I hope more states across the country do the same.”
Medicaid covers nearly one in five women of reproductive age and makes pregnancy-related care accessible for more than 40 percent of people giving birth. Providing continued Medicaid and CHIP coverage helps ensure access to the ongoing care people need during the postpartum period. The continuity of coverage available through this demonstration can help postpartum people manage chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes and provide access to behavioral health and other mental health care services.