Advocates: Missouri has one of worst maternal mortality rates in US

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Women across Missouri are pushing for lawmakers to approve a postpartum coverage extension for new moms on Medicaid.

“The federal government, when they passed the American Rescue Plan Act, said that states could amend their Medicaid states plan to extend coverage to moms on Medicaid to 12 months,” Casey Hanson, director of outreach for Kids Win Missouri, told FOX4 Friday.

Republican State Sen. Elaine Gannon pre-filed the legislation for moms Thursday.

“Whether they’re facing postpartum depression issues or encountering some other health issue based on all the changes that have happened to their body, they’d be able to access that comprehensive health care through that period,” Gannon said.

The current coverage for moms on Medicaid lasts just two months. The pre-filed legislation calls for that postpartum extension for moms to go for a full year. 

“We rank in the bottom quarter,” said Executive Director for Nurture KC Tracy Russell, talking about the states’ maternal mortality rates.

Russell said Missouri ranks anywhere between 40th to 45th in the nation when it comes to that.

“There’s a story within a story here because if you look at the impact on Black mothers in particular, that disparity is stark,” she said.

Russell said Black mothers, according to the latest report in Missouri, are dying at a rate triple of what their white counterparts are. Lawmakers filed similar pieces of legislation last year, but they died in the Senate.

There’s no word whether something like this will pass in 2023 or not. 

“Missouri has already taken on extended Medicaid in the last few years,” Russell said. “This is a very small amount of money in comparison to that that could have great impact.”

Nurture KC works with new moms in the urban core on both sides of state line.

“If you look at the actions of Kansas a year ago, Kansas passed this,” Russell continued. “I think we’re seeing more and more of these midwestern states move in this direction.”

Incoming Missouri Senate President Pro Tem and Republican Caleb Rowden would not say Friday whether he thinks this initiative will pass. 

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