New research makes a compelling case for expanding Medicaid coverage in states like Georgia that have not.
The study examines postpartum hospitalizations, and found a 17% reduction in hospitalizations in the 60 days after giving birth in states that have expanded their Medicaid programs.
That’s significant in Georgia, which already has the nation’s highest maternal mortality rate, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Study co-author Maria Steenland – an assistant professor of health services, policy and practice at Brown University – said they compared the rates of hospitalization among pregnant, low-income patients whose deliveries were Medicaid-funded, versus those that were not, for six months after giving birth.
“Increasing insurance continuity or postpartum insurance is actually a way that we can improve health for postpartum people in the United States,” said Steenland. “The main finding is basically that Medicaid expansion reduced postpartum hospitalizations in the first 60 days postpartum.”
She added that some states are now opting to keep people with Medicaid coverage insured for a longer time after a pregnancy – up to 12 months postpartum, rather than just 60 days.
Other research has shown Medicaid coverage also results in more prenatal care and healthier pregnancies.
Steenland said they found in the first two months postpartum, nearly 70% of the mothers’ hospitalizations are related to pregnancy complications. But between two and six months after giving birth, that drops to less than 10%.
“Some of the more common ones are these digestive system and mental health conditions. Diseases of the genitourinary system, and injury and poisoning, are among the most common reasons throughout the first six months,” said Steenland. “But are more common relative to reasons directly related to childbirth, in the later postpartum periods.”
Steenland added that this study examined hospitalizations for mothers after childbirth, but didn’t address the impact of Medicaid coverage for their babies. Medicaid covers four in ten births in the U.S.
Expanding Medicaid led to decreased postpartum hospitalizations Brown University 1/9/23
Geographic, Health Care Access, Racial Discrimination, and Socioeconomic Determinants of Maternal Mortality in Georgia, United States Armstrong-Mensah et al./NIH 12/13/21
Medicaid Coverage of Pregnancy-Related Services: Findings from a 2021 State Survey Ranji et al./KKF 5/19/22
This story was written by Danielle Smith, producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.