Post-partum Medicaid expansion the right thing to do

Published 6:00 am Sunday, March 19, 2023

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Mississippi took a critical and much-needed step forward in providing healthcare on Thursday as Gov. Tate Reeves signed a law extending post-partum Medicaid coverage.

The new law gives mothers who rely on Medicaid a full year of health care coverage after giving birth.

Heralded by health care advocates, the law is an important step toward addressing the state’s woefully high maternal mortality rate.  Those, combined with the nation’s highest infant mortality rate, point to the challenges women in our state face.  By extending postpartum health care coverage, mothers can seek care for pregnancy-related health issues long after they give birth, hopefully improving outcomes for both the mothers and the infants.

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Of course, like anything in Mississippi politics, passing this law wasn’t easy. For two years the Senate has pushed this legislation, passing multiple versions of the bill. And for two years, House Republicans blocked the measure.

That is until two weeks ago, when Gov. Tate Reeves did an about-face and endorsed the bill after two years of not taking a stand. In doing so, Reeves cited the measure as a way to “tip the scales in favor of life.” And we agree with him.

Being “pro-life” isn’t a one-issue approach to politics or governance. Being pro-life means supporting measures that enhance or protect life across the entire spectrum – from conception to death. Supporting adequate post-partum health care coverage to the two-thirds of Mississippi women who rely on Medicaid for assistance falls squarely in the responsibility of anyone who wants to protect and nurture life in all its stages.

As does providing expanded health care coverage to the state’s working poor.

Polls have shown that 80 percent of Mississippians – from both sides of the political aisle – support Medicaid expansion in our state.  We’d like to think this long-overdue adoption of post-partum health benefits is the first step toward state leaders recognizing the need to address the Medicaid expansion issue.

Quite simply put, it’s the right thing to do.