Senate OKs bill extending postpartum Medicaid coverage for more low-income women


STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin to improve maternal outcomes for women of color and low-income families by allowing more low-income mothers to keep Medicaid coverage for a year after giving birth.

“No woman should be without health care mere weeks after giving birth, particularly lower income women who are at greater risk for food or housing insecurity and other factors that can affect health. There are federal funds available for making sure low-income mothers can stay covered for a full year, and taking advantage of those funds will ensure that moms and children get off to a healthy start,” said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence).

The legislation (2022-S 2202) ensures that women who give birth while enrolled in Medicaid/RIte Care receive Medicaid coverage through the last day of the month in which her 12-month post-partum period ends, instead of the current 60 days postpartum coverage. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence) is sponsoring companion legislation (2022-H 7290).

Currently, pregnant women with incomes up to 250% of the federal poverty level (FPL) are eligible for Medicaid/RIte Care. But 60 days after giving birth, women can only stay on Medicaid if their income is at or below 141% FPL. If their income is above 141% FPL, their Medicaid/RIte Care health insurance coverage ends after 60 days postpartum.

The federal American Rescue Plan passed last year gives all states the option to extend the postpartum coverage period under Medicaid from 60 days following pregnancy to a full year. The state is required to apply for a plan amendment to seek federal funding, but the legislation would allow the use of state-only funds if federal funds were not made available.

In Rhode Island, Black women are 83% more likely to experience a severe complication at birth compared to White women. Hispanic/Latina women are 34% more likely to experience a severe complication at or after birth compared to White women. Many women who give birth on Medicaid are no longer eligible for Medicaid 60 days postpartum and must seek coverage elsewhere or become uninsured, creating a gap in coverage.