Under longstanding federal law, pregnancy-related Medicaid coverage is only guaranteed through 60-days postpartum, at which point many women become uninsured. Barriers to care, including lack of insurance, contribute to maternal mortality and morbidity. Leveraging the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a federal law requiring that states provide continuous coverage to Medicaid enrollees during the COVID-19 pandemic as a condition of receiving enhanced federal financial support, we examine whether postpartum women seek additional care, and what types of care they use, with extended coverage. We analyze claims from the Parkland Community Health Plan (a Texas Medicaid Health Maintenance Organization) before and after implementation of the pandemic-related Medicaid extension. We find that after implementation of the coverage extension, women used twice as many postpartum services, 2 × to 10 × as many preventive, contraceptive, and mental/behavioral health services, and 37% fewer services related to short interval pregnancies within the first-year postpartum. Our findings provide timely insights for state legislators, Medicaid agencies, and members of Congress working to improve maternal health outcomes. We add empirical evidence to support broad extension of Medicaid coverage throughout the first-year postpartum.

Authors: Xiao Wang, Yolande Mfondoum Pengetnze, Emily Eckert, Graham Keever, Vikas Chowdhry

Publication Date: May 2022

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