Expanding postpartum coverage opens opportunities in maternal health, according to Fleming

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INDIANAPOLIS — State Representative Rita Fleming (D-Jeffersonville) commends Indiana’s plan to expand postpartum coverage under Medicaid from two months to a year.

“A year of postpartum coverage is a step forward in giving Hoosier women the healthcare they need,” Fleming said. “When we provide meaningful care for our women, they live healthier lives and raise healthier babies.”

Allison Taylor, Medicaid Director for the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA), made the announcement today during the revenue forecast. Expanded coverage is possible under the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan, which reduces the time and paperwork needed for states to get approval from Washington. Illinois became the first state to gain approval.

When the COVID-19 relief package passed, Fleming urged the governor and FSSA to take advantage of the offered opportunity. According to the 2020 Maternal Mortality Report, Indiana has the third highest maternal mortality rate in the country and found that the majority of the 63 pregnancy-related deaths occurred postpartum.

“We put our arms around women when they’re pregnant, but complications don’t end at delivery,” Fleming said, who is a retired obstetrician. “So many complications happen or continue past two months postpartum such as chronic hypertension or mental health issues. 

“Oftentimes, women struggle to return for their postpartum doctor’s appointment because they’re taking care of a new baby and their family, or they have to return to work since our state also doesn’t have proper maternity leave standards. So on top of a newborn, a woman often pays out of pocket for that doctor’s appointment or any continued postpartum care after two months.” 

Throughout Fleming’s tenure as a legislator, she has advocated for maternal health, and she sees the expansion of postpartum coverage as an opportunity to treat women with a substance abuse disorder. Accidental overdose is the overwhelming leading cause of death for mothers.  

“The postpartum period is notorious for relapses,” Fleming said. “But if a woman can continue to receive coverage, then she can continue the path of sobriety. Maternal healthcare has different pieces, and they’re all connected. Expanding postpartum care opens the door to many opportunities for women and their state of health.”

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