Expanding maternal health care is an important part of the work to support new parents

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The maternal mortality rate—the rate at which mothers die in the months after giving birth—is much higher in the United States than in other developed countries. The lack of comprehensive paid leave for new parents and inconsistent follow-up health care for new mothers are two main reasons for this disparity, according to a 2020 Commonwealth Fund report.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills took an important step in support of new mothers last month when she announced that the state would expand MaineCare health coverage from 60 days to a full year. This means that approximately 40 percent of new mothers in Maine covered by the Social Security plan will have access to follow-up health care, mental health care, family planning and support to care for their newborn children. The expansion is largely funded by the federal government, which recently approved an amendment to the state’s Medicaid plan.

Mills announced the change before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the nearly 50-year-old ruling that gave women a constitutional right to an abortion. Although abortion rights are protected in Maine under current law and guidance, many other states have or plan to severely restrict abortions, which will force more women to give birth whether they want to or not.

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