COVID-19 bill gives states pathway to reduce maternal deaths

Mother holding tiny foot of newborn baby childbirth tile child tile baby tile parent / Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) - Labor and delivery are thought of as the riskiest times for new mothers, but many women die in the weeks and months after giving birth. Now a provision in the COVID-19 relief bill could help change that.

The legislation gives states the option of extending Medicaid coverage to women with low to modest incomes for a full year after childbirth. States are currently required to provide 60 days of coverage, but medical experts point to research showing that women can die from pregnancy-related conditions up to a year after giving birth, and that 3 in 5 of all such deaths are preventable.

The maternal health provisions would make it easier for states to cover new mothers for a full year by cutting the time and paperwork needed to obtain approval from Washington under Medicaid, as well as the Children's Health Insurance Program.