Bill Proposes to Cut Medicaid for Pregnant Women

Medicaid currently provides health coverage for pregnant women with household incomes up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). The program pays for prenatal visits and supplies such as prenatal vitamins, ultrasounds, smoking cessation, and delivery services, including vaginal and cesarean deliveries. The program also covers postpartum care for 60 days.

Senator Robert Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) has introduced SB 14, which would reduce Medicaid coverage for pregnant women and children and allow the savings from these reductions to be used to raise the eligibility levels for the aged, blind and disabled.

Click here to read Senate Bill 14.

Prior to 1987 Missouri only provided coverage for pregnant women up to 40 percent of the federal poverty level. In 1987 the MCC made expanding Medicaid coverage for pregnant women a major policy priority. The MCC argued expanding this coverage would encourage women to have their child rather than turn to an abortion. The MCC further pointed out the benefits of prenatal care in lowering disability rates and improving birth weights.

The general assembly agreed and passed a law expanding Medicaid coverage to 100 percent of FPL. In 1993, as part of an omnibus health care bill supported by the MCC, Medicaid coverage for pregnant women was raised to 185 percent of FPL.

Missouri was not alone in the 1980’s and 1990’s in expanding its Medicaid coverage for pregnant women. Concerns about increases in infant mortality spurred expansion in states across the country. As of January 2012, 39 states, including DC, have expanded eligibility for pregnant women to at or above 185 percent of FPL.

Senator Schaaf’s legislation will be one of many bills considered this session that addresses the Medicaid program.

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