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The debate over extending postpartum Medicaid coverage in Mississippi is far from over

Philip Gunn postpartum
Photo by SuperTalk Mississippi News

The Senate once again attempted to extend postpartum Medicaid benefits from 60 days to one year during the 2022 session.

S.B. 2033 made it through the House Medicaid Committee on March 1 but died when Speaker Philip Gunn and the committee’s chair, Representative Joey Hood, chose not to bring it up for a vote.

Since then, Gunn has made it clear that he’s opposed to expanding Medicaid.

“You’re adding an extension of benefits,” Gunn reiterated on Friday’s episode of The Gallo Show. “The proposal is to put people on Medicaid for a longer time. I have said repeatedly we need to be looking for ways to get people off Medicaid, not putting more people on.”

Gunn also revealed in the interview that the committee reached out to the Mississippi Division of Medicaid for guidance when deciding whether or not to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

“It was reported back to me that they did not advocate for the expansion of postpartum. They did not encourage that. They did not say they were in favor of that,” Gunn said.

Gunn’s cross-chamber counterpart, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, has a much different view than the Speaker of the House.

“We have five to six hundred of these Medicaid births a month. We’re talking about five to seven thousand children” Hosemann explained during an April interview on The Gallo Show. “And a sick mother who’s already on Medicaid. This is not an expansion Medicaid… It’s not something, for example, if you’ve had an abortion, you’d be covered. It’s just talking about moms for longer than two months, taking care of those mothers so they can take care of their children and go back to work.”

Mississippi is one of just 12 states that has not expanded Medicaid to people whose jobs do not provide health insurance. The expansion is an option under the federal health overhaul signed into law by former President Barack Obama in 2010. According to the Kaiser Foundation, about 60% of Mississippi births in 2020 were financed by Medicaid.

Hosemann added that it’s hard for him to reconcile fighting for the lives of the unborn in the Supreme Court and then not fighting for the children that are already here. With state lawmakers now being forced to focus on ways to improve the lives of mothers and their babies following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, there’s no doubt that the debate over extending postpartum coverage in Mississippi will come up again in 2023.

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