WASHINGTON - Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) has cosponsored legislation to ensure that pregnant women can access affordable health coverage during and after their pregnancies. This bill is the first in a series of legislation Senator Jones will be introducing in the coming months to strengthen families and improve health outcomes for women and children.
The Healthy Maternal and Obstetric Medicine (Healthy MOM) Act would establish a special enrollment period for expectant mothers to sign up for health insurance. Currently, marriage, divorce, having a baby, adoption, and changing jobs are considered qualifying life events that trigger a special enrollment period – although becoming pregnant is not considered a qualifying event. The bill would also guarantee 12 months of continuous Medicaid eligibility for postpartum women, thus removing key barriers that often prevent mothers from getting the care they need after birth.
“As a society, we need to focus on policies that strengthen families and provide the best health care possible for women and children,” Senator Jones, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said. “This legislation would ensure women have the resources and the health care that they need during this important time.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 700 women die each year in the United States from pregnancy-related complications. Black women are about three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women. The Healthy MOM Act will work to improve these outcomes by expanding quality access to care, which data demonstrates could help prevent three in five pregnancy related deaths.
Specifically, the Healthy MOM Act would:
Create a special enrollment period for pregnant individuals, so that they can enroll in or change their healthcare plan;
Enable the Director of the Office of Personnel Management to establish a special enrollment period for pregnancy, for those eligible to receive coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and clarify that the enrollment shall be available for families even during a lapse in appropriation or government shutdown;
Ensure comprehensive coverage of maternity care – including labor and delivery – for dependent children covered by group health plans and other forms of employer-sponsored coverage;
Protect against threats to Medicaid income eligibility and maintain the highest standard of care for low-income pregnant individuals and infants, and
Guarantee 12-months of continuous Medicaid eligibility for postpartum women.
The Healthy MOM Act is co-sponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Angus King (I-Maine), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.