At the same time, a number of Republicans, led by Republicans, are pushing for an abortion ban, extending new mothers’ health insurance benefits by professing to support “women in crisis.”
As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to rule on national abortion rights, many Republican states are seeking strict abortion bans that would force many women to conceive within a timeframe that is likely to exacerbate the maternal mortality crisis in the United States.
Some of these same lawmakers are now passing bills that extend Medicaid benefits to low-income mothers, usually for one year after birth rather than the current two months.
Arizona, Florida, Tennessee and Texas have all expanded health benefits for low-income mothers in recent months, and Alabama and Georgia have moved to introduce such extensions, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Everyone also seeks to impose strict restrictions or bans on abortion.
Although expanding pregnancy-related health coverage is a “victory in many ways,” it does not counteract the fact that abortion bans “would certainly lead to a higher risk of maternal morbidity or mortality,” said Sarah Blake. Associate Professor of Health Policy at Emory University in Georgia.
Blake said lawmakers in Georgia were in the Jekyll and Hyde regime. Even as defenders of maternal health, including herself, they are “very happy” about the extension, she said, “we know the state is very much against women and their access to a full range of reproductive health services.”
Changes in postpartum benefits are coming as the Supreme Court is expected to rule in the coming days on a critical case of abortion rights, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. An expired draft opinion showed that conservative judges are on the verge of ending federal protection against abortion. If that happens, 26 states will certainly or probably will ban abortions.
“It simply came to our notice then [Republicans] they don’t work in good faith, “said Loretta Ross, an associate professor at Smith College in Georgia and a reproductive justice activist. “If they were really interested in maternal mortality, they would reduce the causes of maternal mortality – and that goes beyond the expansion of Medicaid.”
Democrat and Republican-led U.S. lawmakers have made changes to Medicaid, a federal and state partnership that provides health care to the poor and disabled, to take advantage of federal aid in a pandemic that streamlines changes in benefits after the birth.
However, the most dramatic effect will be in the Republican-led states, where lawmakers have long refused to expand the program to more low-income people.
The waiver is a legacy of the Obamacare debate. Around the time of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, Republicans filed a lawsuit to stop the expansion of Medicaid. They succeeded in the Supreme Court, and each state was forced to accept the expansion of Medicaid individually.
A dozen states, mostly in the southern United States, still refuse to do so, although the federal government will pay 90 percent of the cost of expanding the program.
Extending Medicaid to postpartum women only seems to be a way for Republican-led states to defend their support for a sympathetic group, even when they oppose wider Medicaid expansion and a ban on abortion, Ross said.
In Texas, for example, a state where a quarter of women of childbearing age do not have health insurance, the highest rate in the nation and one of the 10 worst states for maternal mortality, lawmakers recently extended Medicaid to six-month-old pregnant patients. after birth, instead of two.
An adult who has two children cannot earn more than $ 2,760 a year and qualify for Medicaid – unless she is pregnant, in which case she can earn up to $ 45,600 a year and qualify. However, previously the exemption lasted only 60 days after birth – the federal minimum – after which most people became uninsured again.
Enlargement to six months is welcome, but not enough, said Erica Ramirez, director of policy and advocacy for the Texas Women’s Health Coalition: “We have six, which is better than nothing.” [But] again and again, [the] top recommendation [from maternal health experts] is for women to receive postpartum care for 12 months. “
When the legislation was signed, Texas Sen. Lois Colchhorst, who sponsored it, described the Medicaid expansion as “a bipartisan effort to keep healthy mothers in Texas and provide the care needed to avoid preventable deaths and diseases.”
Yet just two days before the bill passed the Senate, Colchhorst and her Republican counterparts passed a total ban on abortion, which is expected to take effect immediately if the U.S. Supreme Court terminates federal protection against abortion. This is one of 26 abortion restrictions that Colhorst voted for in his 11-year career as a legislator.
Such an effort to simultaneously expand Medicaid for pregnant women and ban abortion is underway in Alabama. There, one of the most vocal supporters of the expansion is Republican Secretary of State Debbie Wood, who also opposes abortion in almost all circumstances, including rape and incest.
Colchhorst could not be reached for comment, and Wood did not respond to interview requests.
In Tennessee, Republican Gov. Bill Lee directly linked post-Medicaid expansion and abortion. At a news conference in May, he spoke of banning Tennessee’s “trigger,” a law that would allow the state to ban abortions immediately if the Supreme Court terminates federal defenses.
“The lives of unborn children are very important to protect their lives,” he said, adding: “It is also important to realize that women in crisis need support and help through this process. For example, that’s why we’ve expanded our postpartum coverage for women at TennCare. “
“This kind of strategy pits needy people against each other,” Ross said. “We need to stand up for postpartum women to receive Medicaid and fuck everyone else who needs it.” This is a classic divide-and-conquer strategy.