A bill so Good, It Passed Twice

Washington is one step closer to extending postpartum coverage to one year

The Postpartum Medicaid Expansion Bill (SB 5068) was voted off the Senate floor Thursday with strong bipartisan support – again!

This bill also passed with nearly unanimous support last year, but was vetoed by Governor Inslee due to the budget crisis sparked by COVID-19.

The pandemic has made ensuring coverage to new moms and birthing parents even more crucial, particularly as women are facing significantly higher rates of postpartum depression and anxiety as a result of the pandemic, which can lead to poor health outcomes for moms and babies during and after pregnancy.

SB 5068 would extend postpartum coverage to women earning up to 198% of the federal poverty level and would create an outreach campaign to raise awareness about the coverage for patients and providers.

Extending postpartum Medicaid coverage to low-income women and birthing parents is a crucial step in correcting the maternal mortality epidemic in our nation and state, particularly for Black and Native women, who are much more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. Ensuring postpartum health coverage also improves maternal and child health outcomes over the life-course and helps women and new families build and maintain economic security during a vulnerable time.

This exciting progress forward in our state comes on the tail of news from the other Washington, where the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package currently being considered in Congress includes an option for states to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for 60 days to 12 months. However, as Black-led reproductive justice groups and other key advocacy groups around the country argue, the federal bill does not go far enough by making the provision optional instead of required, and also by failing to increase the federal match to 100% for this crucial program.

Washington can be a leader in prioritizing women’s health. Our next step is working to pass the bill out of the House of Representatives. Sign up here to stay tuned for action alerts to support postpartum Medicaid coverage!

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