Virginia Medicaid expands allowing 12-months postpartum coverage

Health Watch

Tyesha Young, who lost her hospital job during the pandemic, holds her baby Jalayah Johnson outside their home in Waggaman, La., Friday, July 2, 2021. More than $7,000 behind on rent, Young had hoped a program in Louisiana would bail her out and allow her family to avert eviction in the coming weeks. But the 29-year-old mother of two from Jefferson Parish is still waiting to hear whether any of the $308 million available from the state for rental assistance and utility payments will give her a lifeline. She applied for money last year but never heard anything. (AP Photo/Sophia Germer)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — On Thursday, the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) announced that Medicaid members can maintain their health coverage for 12 months following pregnancy.

The expanded coverage, aimed at improving health outcomes for both parents and babies, increases the coverage period from as low as 60 days to a full year.

“Extending postpartum coverage is another step toward Governor Ralph Northam’s goal of eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in maternal mortality by 2025,” said Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Vanessa Walker Harris, MD. “This policy will improve the health and well-being of families of color and save lives across the Commonwealth.”

Officials say extended coverage will be available to Medicaid members in 2022, pending state confirmation.  The Medicaid agency covers one in three births across the Commonwealth and expects the expansion to extend coverage for more than 6,000 members per year.

The extension of comprehensive postpartum coverage includes regular check-ups, behavioral health visits, and specialty care, allowing individuals to receive treatment for chronic conditions and avoid preventable complications or deaths.

“Families have been at the forefront of Medicaid since the beginning,” DMAS Director Karen Kimsey said. “We know pregnancy-related complications do not stop after 60 days. Twelve months of postpartum coverage reinforces Virginia Medicaid’s mission to improve the health and well-being of Virginians through access to high-quality health care coverage.”

Individuals can apply for Medicaid online at CommonHelp or by calling 833-5CALLVA (TDD: 1-888-221-1590). Translation and interpretation services are available in all languages.

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