Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed legislation to solidify a full year of Medicaid coverage for women after childbirth
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed legislation Thursday to solidify a full year of Medicaid coverage for women after giving birth, saying it’s part of a “new pro-life agenda” to help mothers now that access to abortion is restricted.
Mississippi generally allows two months of postpartum Medicaid coverage. The state has allowed a full year of coverage since the COVID-19 public health emergency began in 2020, though many patients have said the state did little to inform them that postpartum coverage continued beyond the usual two months.
With the national public health emergency set to expire in May, Mississippi officials intensified their debate over committing to a full year of postpartum benefits. Reeves is seeking re-election and was criticized by Democrats for his long refusal to support the extension.
The governor endorsed the idea on February 26, though he said he hadn’t seen the financial information he wanted to justify the roughly $7 million annual cost to the state.
The new law Reeves signed goes into effect on July 1.
“I believe that continuing to care for new moms up to 12 months after their baby is born is the right thing to do,” Reeves said in a statement Thursday. “This is one more thing we can do to tip the scales in favor of life.”
The US Supreme Court used a Mississippi case last year to overturn its landmark Roe v. Wade of 1973 and nullify the right to abortion throughout the country. Several days later, Mississippi enacted a 2007 law saying abortion is legal only if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger or the pregnancy is caused by a rape reported to police.
Mississippi health officials have predicted that the state could experience an increase of 5,000 births per year due to abortion restrictions.
In more than half a dozen states, Republican officials who once resisted extending postpartum Medicaid coverage are now embracing it as part of their anti-abortion agenda.
Medicaid pays for about 60% of births in Mississippi, one of the poorest states in the US.
As governor since January 2020 and through two previous terms as lieutenant governor, Reeves has resisted efforts to expand the reach of Medicaid and other government programs. She has not publicly shifted her opposition to a broader expansion of Medicaid coverage to workers in low-wage jobs that do not offer private insurance.
Mississippi is one of 11 states that have not approved that broader expansion. That list could be whittled down to 10 states, as North Carolina is working on the expansion.
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