WASHINGTON, D.C. [05/15/19]– U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) today joined an effort to ensure that all expectant mothers get the health care services they need both during and after pregnancy by cosponsoring the Healthy Maternal and Obstetric Medicine (Healthy MOM) Act.
Sen. Smith said the measure would ensure that all women eligible for coverage through the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplaces, as well as women eligible for other individual or group health plan coverage, can access affordable health coverage throughout their pregnancies. Currently, marriage, divorce, having a baby, adoption and changing jobs are considered a qualifying life event that allows people to sign up for health care services.
“When mothers are preparing to bring a child into the world or thinking about caring for their new baby, there shouldn’t be the added stress of not knowing whether they’re eligible for quality, affordable health care,” said Sen. Smith. “This bill would guarantee health care coverage for pregnant women and those who’ve recently given birth. It’s the year 2019—expanding comprehensive maternal care, and ensuring a high standard of care, needs to be the law of the land in our nation.”
Sen. Smith—a member of the Senate Health Committee—said this bill would establish pregnancy as a qualifying life event and allow expectant mothers to enroll in health care services instead of having to wait until the baby is born to change coverage. The bill would also guarantee 12 months of continuous Medicaid eligibility for postpartum women, thus removing key barriers that often prevent mothers from getting the care they need after birth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 700 women die each year in the United States from pregnancy-related complications. Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women are about three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women. Brown and Watson Coleman’s legislation will work to improve these outcomes by expanding quality access to care, which data demonstrates could help prevent three in five pregnancy related deaths.
Specifically, the Healthy MOM Act would:
· Create a special enrollment period (SEP) in the ACA marketplaces and other commercial insurance plans for pregnant individuals once pregnancy is reported, so that they can enroll in or change their healthcare plan;
· Enable the Director of the Office of Personnel Management to establish a special enrollment period for pregnancy, for those eligible to receive coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and clarify that the enrollment shall be available for families even during a lapse in appropriation or government shutdown;
· Ensure comprehensive coverage of maternity care – including labor and delivery – for dependent children covered by group health plans and other forms of employer-sponsored coverage;
· Protect against threats to Medicaid income eligibility and maintain the highest standard of care for low-income pregnant individuals and infants, and
· Guarantee 12-months of continuous Medicaid eligibility for postpartum women.
The Healthy MOM Act is endorsed by the American College of Nurse Midwives, March of Dimes, MomsRising, National Women’s Health Network, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), National Birth Equity Collaborative, Advocates for Youth, NARAL, Young Invincibles, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, National Health Law Program, NOVA Birth Partners and Black Mammas Matter Alliance.