If lawmakers choose not to pass a bill extending postpartum Medicaid, Mississippi is set to be the final state without either postpartum Medicaid extension or full-on Medicaid expansion.
On Wednesday, the Wyoming legislature sent a bill to its governor extending postpartum benefits from 60 days to 12 months. A similar bill has passed the Mississippi Senate but awaits a vote in the House of Representatives.
“There has been quite a bit of discussion about whether or not the postpartum benefits should be extended or not and I have been clear on my position,” House Speaker Philip Gunn said earlier this week. “To be candid, I’m still not convinced that I’m all the way there.”
Although Gunn is not convinced that postpartum Medicaid extension is necessary in Mississippi, the state with the highest maternal mortality rate, the speaker is allowing the bill to inch through the legislative process.
On Tuesday, hours before a looming deadline, the bill was passed by the House Medicaid Committee during the committee’s first meeting this session. Subsequently, the bill was moved to the calendar but has not yet been discussed on the floor.
Gunn has since added that in order for the legislation to be brought up for a vote, he would like to see certain amendments made to address the possibility of abortions being performed using postpartum benefits.
“If, in fact, this bill goes through, we don’t want any of those benefits being used to perform abortions and so I think we’re going to add a restriction in there to prohibit the performance of abortions,” Gunn said.
As of now, it is unclear if lawmakers will pass the bill if such amendments are made. The deadline to do so is March 9.