Apr 13, 2021 - Health

Illinois extends Medicaid coverage to 1 year postpartum

Democratic lawmakers from Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth,  Rep. Robin Kelly and Rep. Lauren Underwood

Democratic lawmakers from Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Rep. Robin Kelly and Rep. Lauren Underwood. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Tom Williams/Pool/AFP/ via Getty Images

Illinois on Monday became the first state to extend Medicaid coverage for new mothers, offering a year of coverage instead of the standard 60 days.

Why it matters: 52% of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. occur within a year of giving birth. In Illinois, it's 80% of maternity deaths, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said on a media call Monday.

Details: Coronavirus stimulus legislation allowed states to seek the extension, and more states will likely follow suit.

The big picture: The expansion may also help shrink the maternity death rate across race and ethnicities, Becerra said.

  • Medicaid pays for nearly half of all births in the U.S. and is the largest payer for births among women of color. Black women are 2.5 times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women.
  • Illinois has one of the highest maternal death rates for Black women in the country.
  • Postpartum coverage can help mothers manage pre-existing conditions or get access to mental health services, HHS said.
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