March 16, 2021
Sen. Gayle L. Goldin at (401) 340-5050
Senate OKs bill to let pregnant women above income limit buy Medicaid coverage
Healthy Pregnancy Program is aimed at ensuring critical prenatal care
STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Gayle L. Goldin to enable pregnant women with income levels above the Medicaid limit to purchase health insurance through one of the state’s Medicaid plans. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.
“No pregnant woman should go without prenatal care. That care is absolutely vital to the wellbeing of the woman, and children born without it can suffer lifelong ill effects. It is critical that every pregnant woman, regardless of her circumstances, has the resources she needs to maintain a healthy pregnancy,” said Senator Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence).
The Healthy Pregnancy Program established in the bill (2021-S 0231) would allow pregnant women with an annual family income above the applicable Medicaid income limit, but less than or equal to four times the federal poverty level, to purchase health insurance coverage through one of the Medicaid managed care plans.
Under the bill, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and HealthSource RI would be jointly responsible for administration of the program, and would be required to ensure clear and transparent procedures that include an expedited eligibility process for timely enrollment, ease of payment and prompt transfer from the healthy pregnancy program to other available health insurance options upon birth of the baby.
According to Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, which supports the bill, the federal Affordable Care Act has helped reduce the number of women giving birth without insurance in Rhode Island by 65 percent since 2012. However, for those who still lack insurance, it would make a significant difference. Between 2013 and 2017, 398 uninsured women gave birth in Rhode Island, and they were at increased risk for delayed prenatal care, low birth weight, preterm births, NICU involvement, and infant mortality compared to women with insurance, according to KIDS COUNT.
The bill, which would take effect Jan. 1, is cosponsored by Sen. Bridget G. Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, East Greenwich, Narragansett, South Kingstown), Sen. Alana DiMario (D-Dist. 36, North Kingstown, Narragansett), Sen. Samuel W. Bell (D-Dist. 5, Providence), Sen. Jeanine Calkin (D-Dist. 30, Warwick) and Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence).
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