Georgia bill would expand Medicaid coverage for new moms

February 12, 2022 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia bill aimed at reducing the state’s high death rate for new mothers is advancing.

The state Senate this week unanimously approved legislation that would extend Medicaid coverage for low-income moms in Georgia from six months to a year after they give birth.

“Extending Medicaid coverage to new mothers to a full year after birth is a solid step towards improving the lives and health of mothers and babies in Georgia,” Senate Democratic Leader Gloria Butler said Monday. “It will address our shameful maternal mortality rate. We cannot claim to care about women’s health, maternal health and babies without passing this legislation.”

The bill is now before the state House of Representatives. Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposed budget for next year sets aside a little more than $28 million for the expansion.

Georgia has among the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. The state experienced 25.1 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 live births from 2015 through 2017, according to state data. Black women in the state were 2.3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.

The national average for pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 births was around 17 over the same period of time.

State lawmakers had previously extended Medicaid coverage for moms from two months to six months after birth.