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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Tennessee, South Carolina expands health care for new moms

Nashville, Tenn. ( Associated Press) — Tennessee and South Carolina are joining five other states in providing health care coverage to low- and marginal-income women for a full year after childbirth.US Secretary of Health and Human Services Javier Becerra made the announcement on Friday.

The expansion of Medicaid and the children’s health insurance program comes at a time when the US Supreme Court may be ready to overturn women’s constitutional right to abortion. This could make coverage more urgent than ever if more women, especially older women or those in poor health, end up having pregnancies. In Tennessee, a trigger law would outlaw abortion In State If Roe Vs. Wade were reversed. South Carolina has a law banning abortions after six weeks.

States are currently required to provide 60 days of coverage after childbirth, but medical experts say women can die from pregnancy-related conditions for up to a year after giving birth. And most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. Maternal mortality is particularly severe for black women, whose pregnancy-related mortality rate is three times that of white women.

When asked about the impact of the abortion ban on Tennessee women at Thursday’s news conference, Republican Gov. Bill Lee, who opposes abortion, pointed to the expansion.

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“It’s important that we recognize that women in crisis need support and support through this process. For example, that’s why we’ve expanded our postpartum coverage to women at TennCare,” Lee said. said.

TennCare is Tennessee’s version of Medicaid, the federal-state program that covers one in five Americans, many newborns to low-income adults and vulnerable nursing home residents. This program pays for four out of every 10 births in the United States.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 700 American women die annually due to pregnancy-related problems, slightly more than half of female births. About 12% of maternal deaths occur 43 to 365 days after delivery.

The expanded coverage is made possible by a provision in the COVID-19 relief bill It will expire after five years unless Congress accepts it again or makes it permanent.

Extending coverage was technically possible before the bill, but difficult. The COVID bill cuts the time and paperwork needed to get approval from Washington under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Tennessee and South Carolina are joining Louisiana, Michigan, Virginia, New Jersey and Illinois and expanding postpartum coverage from 60 days to 12 months. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is working with nine other states and the District of Columbia to increase coverage.

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US women more likely to die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth compared to women in 10 other economically advanced countries, according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund. The best performing countries include Canada, Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom. The lack of postpartum care in the US was seen as part of the problem.

Also on Friday, Becerra announced the launch of a new $3 million maternal mental health hotline. This service is free, confidential and will work 24 hours a day. The hotline will start this Sunday on Mother’s Day. Pregnant women and new moms can reach counselors for mental health support by calling or texting 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS.

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