LANSING, Mich. (WJMN) – Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Monday that the state of Michigan’s request to expand Medicaid coverage for mothers and newborns has been approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The move will expand Medicaid coverage to a full 12-month postpartum period.

Currently, many Medicaid enrollees are eligible for coverage until the end of the month in which their 60-day postpartum period ends. Expanding coverage will provide health and dental services for a full year after pregnancy, aiming to address health disparities in the state.

“As a mom of two, I know firsthand how vital it is for every mom to have access to high-quality, affordable healthcare to care for herself and her new baby,” Whitmer said. “By extending these critical, 12-month postpartum benefits, we can improve long-term outcomes for moms and babies and close health disparities. We will continue working together to ensure every family can thrive with access to behavioral health services, screenings, and treatments to lead healthy and successful lives.” 

The state estimates the expansion will impact 35,000 pregnant and postpartum Michiganders each year, with about $20 million budgeted to finance the program. Whitmer says the expansion is part of her ‘Healthy Moms Healthy Babies‘ initiative, and comes as Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month gets underway in May.

“I have long supported legislation to make this extension of postpartum care permanent, and I am so grateful to have an ally in this fight in Governor Whitmer,” Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) said. “New moms and their health care providers agree that current standards of postpartum care are antiquated, especially in communities where health disparities exist. This is a huge step towards ensuring every new mom gets the care and support she needs, and we know healthy moms have healthy babies, laying the foundation for a healthy life.” 

The expansion promotes access to behavioral health services to reduce pregnancy-related deaths and severe maternal morbidity. It also intends to improve continuity of care for chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, cardiac conditions, substance use disorder and depression. Extending postpartum eligibility allows enrollees increased access to complete postpartum depression screening and receive referrals to services and supports for needed treatment. Enrollees will have similar access to supports and treatment for substance use disorder conditions if needed as well. 

“Being able to ensure continuity of care for Michigan moms and babies is critical to reducing preventable deaths and will lead to better long-term health outcomes for new parents and newborns,” said Elizabeth Hertel, Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Extending Medicaid postpartum coverage will assist the state in its continued efforts to improve access to care for all Michigan families and equitable health outcomes.” 

Michigan’s Maternal Mortality Surveillance Committee found in January of 2018 that approximately 50% of maternal deaths in Michigan were preventable. Providing increased access to healthcare services aims to lower that rate.

Current Medicaid recipients do not need to take any actions to receive the extended coverage. It will be extended automatically to 12 months past their reported delivery date.  

You can learn more about applying for Medicaid and other medical assistance programs here.