The United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the industrialized world.
A third of the deaths occur after delivery, when experts note a significant share of American women experience a gap in healthcare coverage. The way the law is now, all states ensure low-income pregnant women have access to Medicaid coverage with more than 40 percent of babies born in the U.S. being to mothers enrolled in the program. However, reports indicate that the coverage expires 60 days after mom gives birth.
The new American Rescue Plan addresses this gap by extending Medicaid coverage for 12 months. This coupled with the increased child tax credit, both supported by federal funds, is designed to further support low-income parents.
Additionally, officials note the extension in Medicaid coverage will also help support women in their efforts to comply with new postpartum guidelines announced by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The organization began recommending in 2018 that postpartum care be delivered as a series of multiple visits from three to 12 weeks after delivery. Previously, the agency recommended only one visit at six weeks after birth.