For the second installment of an in-depth look into each of the Association’s “Top 10 Highlights” from the 2022 Legislative Session, we will look at the Medical Association’s successful multi-year advocacy efforts to secure a Medicaid postpartum coverage extension from 60 days to 12 months after birth.
Alabama has the nation’s third worst maternal death rate and African-American mothers are nearly three times more likely to die in the postpartum period than white mothers. To address this crisis the Medical Association spearheaded an effort to fund the Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC) to research why Alabama statistics were so terrible and identify ways to improve maternal health outcomes.
With the above in mind, the Association worked with legislators and Gov. Kay Ivey’s office to secure funding for Alabama’s MMRC. The MMRC, led by a coalition of physicians, nurses, social workers and other public health leaders, set out to begin reviewing medical records related to maternal deaths in the postpartum period.
After the MMRC’s first full report, the committee found that most pregnancy-related health concerns can continue up to a year after birth, and tragically, 70 percent of the deaths reviewed by the MMRC were deemed to have been preventable. The MMRC also found that access to mental healthcare and substance abuse services as well as cardiovascular risk factors played a large role in maternal outcomes.
With those findings, it was clear outcomes improve when mothers have access to quality healthcare in the postpartum period and that extending postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 12 months would not only save lives, but improve racial health disparities across Alabama. In the 2022 legislative session, the Medical Association and a coalition of partners through the Cover Alabama Coalition, worked closely with the Ivey Administration, the legislature and the Alabama Medicaid Agency to extend postpartum coverage from 60 days to one full year after birth through an additional $8.5 million appropriation to Medicaid to accomplish this goal. This extension will provide mothers on Medicaid access to full-spectrum Medicaid coverage for a full 12 months postpartum, not just access to OBGYN-care.
Extending postpartum coverage for women from 60 days to one year was a top priority for the Medical Association in the 2022 legislative session. While this accomplishment was a significant victory for maternal health advocates in Alabama, our work is not done. The Association continues to support expanding access to care for all Alabamians caught in the coverage gap