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Virginia will expand Medicaid coverage up to a year after pregnancy

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra announced the policy change at a...
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra announced the policy change at a panel in Richmond focused on maternal health and pregnancy outcomes. (Source: pexels.com)
Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 7:23 AM EST
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Virginia will join only a handful of states in expanding Medicaid coverage to members for a year after pregnancy, officials announced Thursday.

The extended services will start next year, but the move to augment postpartum care has been a priority for the state since 2020, when legislators passed budget language directing the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services to initiate the change. While the agency is responsible for administering the state’s Medicaid program, the move required approval from the federal government, which authorized expansion funds through the American Rescue Plan earlier this year.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra announced the policy change at a panel in Richmond focused on maternal health and pregnancy outcomes. Like other states, Virginia has struggled to manage rising rates of maternal mortality, which are disproportionately higher for Black individuals.

Statewide, they’re more than twice as likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause, according to the most recently available data from the Virginia Department of Health.

“We’re allowing women to come to us in conditions we would never want to otherwise see,” Becerra said during the panel. Expanding Medicaid coverage has become a critical focus as public health experts work to reduce those disparities. While low-income pregnant women are typically eligible for the program, coverage for some members ends within 60 days after giving birth. That can mean losing access to critical care at a, particularly vulnerable time.

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.(Virginia Mercury)

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.

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