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Wolf Administration Aims to Expand Postpartum Medicaid Coverage

August 06, 2021

Mother holding sleeping newborn

This week, the Wolf Administration announced plans to extend the postpartum coverage period for mothers eligible for Medicaid because of their pregnancy from 60 days to one year.

State officials said the expansion would allow thousands of birthing parents to access necessary physical and behavioral health care to keep themselves and their families healthy.

“The first year post-birth is a critical time for the entire family’s health and well-being and this expansion will help mothers maintain relationships with care providers undisrupted,” Meg Snead, acting secretary for the Department of Human Services, said in a statement. “As our nation seeks to reverse rising trends in maternal mortality, this coverage can help us save lives and is a necessary investment in maternal-child health across Pennsylvania.”

Federal law requires Medicaid to extend eligibility for pregnant women with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level for 60 days following the birth of a baby. The American Rescue Plan Act allows states to expand Medicaid postpartum coverage for mothers to one year following the birth of a baby, state officials said. The change goes into effect April 1, 2022.

Medicaid covers four in ten births nationally and about three in ten in Pennsylvania, state officials said. In Pennsylvania and the U.S., maternal mortality has emerged as a key area of concern, with the nation showing worse outcomes compared to other similar countries, according to recent analysis.

“Access to health care is essential to well-being,” Snead said. “Ending pregnancy-related coverage for mothers covered through Medicaid just 60 days after birth risks mothers going without necessary and potentially life-saving care.”

The Wolf Administration will submit a formal declaration to expand postpartum coverage after receiving guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The Wolf Administration announced the changes during a press briefing on Thursday. A replay of the event is available online. Additional resources for Medical Assistance and other assistance programs in Pennsylvania are available on the state’s website.