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For Missouri Moms, Extending Postpartum Coverage is Essential

In Missouri, a pregnant woman’s concerns are not limited to the health of her future child—she must also worry for her own health.

Missouri ranks 44th in the nation for maternal health outcomes. An average of 61 women die each year during pregnancy or within one year postpartum. Furthermore, Black women are four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes. This striking example of inequality in maternal health care is just one of the disparities that exist along lines of race, education, geography, and economic status. 

A multi-year study on maternal mortality, conducted by the Missouri Department of Health and Human Senior services in conjunction with the Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review Board, demonstrates how Missouri’s widespread disparities in pregnancy care intensify pre-existing racial and socioeconomic inequity in the state.

The Missouri PAMR dashboard gives a look into maternal health outcomes in Missouri.

As with most health issues, access to the right coverage makes a big difference. Medicaid covers nearly 50 percent of all births and pregnancy care in the US, but it only covers pregnant women for 60 days postpartum. Now, however, states can opt to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage to 1 year, authorized by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The Missouri Foundation for Health estimates that 4,500 women in Missouri would gain access to continuous coverage by extending coverage to 1 year. While Missouri came close to extending postpartum coverage last year, they ultimately failed in passing the legislation before the end of the session.

Women are particularly vulnerable for mental health and cardiovascular conditions within 1 year postpartum. Inconsistent insurance coverage may prevent women from receiving the specialized care they need to catch crucial signs of these conditions in the postpartum period. Additionally, only about 40 percent of women on Medicaid have a postpartum follow-up visit at all, which may be explained by the short 60 day window of coverage.

Ultimately, when Medicaid coverage is extended, women are more likely to use services that lead to happy and healthy families. To learn more about this issue, read our full report.