PHILADELPHIA, PA — Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Meg Snead joined Maternity Care Coalition (MCC) for a roundtable discussion this week covering the Wolf Administration’s focus on improving health care and supports for pregnant and new parents and young children, MCC’s work to support birthing parents and families in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and opportunities to advance support for parents and children commonwealth-wide.
“Pregnancy and the postpartum period should be a time of great joy parents, but this time also comes with extreme physical and emotional strain that can influence the long-term health and well-being of both parents and children. Parents and children deserve support that is responsive to their individual needs through this critical time, and the Wolf Administration and my department are committed to using our programs to support this necessary, potentially life-saving work,” said Acting Secretary Snead. “As we seek to advance supports provided through Pennsylvania’s Medical Assistance program, learning from the experiences of organizations providing and people receiving services directly is essential to ensuring that our work can meet the actual needs of our communities. I am grateful to Maternity Care Coalition for their dedication to parents and children, and I look forward to continuing to partner with them moving forward.”
Since taking office, Governor Wolf has prioritized expanding access to health care and supportive services that help parents be supported through pregnancy and the postpartum period and gives children a strong, healthy start that can lead to continued health, well-being, and positive outcomes throughout their lives.
Pennsylvania has made significant investments in home visiting programs, expanding access to home visiting services that support parents and young children. Additionally, in 2020, home visiting services for first-time birthing parents and children with special needs became a part of Pennsylvania’s Medical Assistance program.
DHS is also a participant in Pennsylvania’s Perinatal Quality Collaborative (PQC), a cross-system public-private partnership that seeks to advance maternal-child health and leverage perinatal health providers to improve health and wellbeing of pregnant and postpartum mothers and their children. The PQC focuses on support for parents experiencing prenatal and postpartum depression, opioid use disorder in parents and the impact of neonatal abstinence syndrome on children, and other chronic health conditions that can affect the health and well-being of parents and children. The PQC’s Moving on Maternal Depression effort is working to expand enhanced prenatal and postpartum depression screenings for birthing parents and improve follow-up and use of services after referrals for further care. The initiative also seeks to close racial and ethnic disparities in prenatal and postpartum depression screenings and follow-up. Enhanced screenings are currently being implemented in 16 hospitals.
The Wolf Administration also recently announced that Pennsylvania will opt-in to extended postpartum coverage for birthing parents covered through Medicaid due to their pregnancy. Under the American Rescue Plan Act, states are able to extend the Medicaid postpartum coverage period from just 60 days to one year after giving birth. Data on maternal mortality rates in the United States in 2018 and 2019 show a growing trend that is particularly concentrated among Black women as compared to Latinx and White women, and a review of pregnancy-associated deaths in Pennsylvania found that nearly 60 percent of these deaths came between 42 days and one year after giving birth.
Expanding postpartum coverage for mothers covered through Medicaid will provide continuity and access to health care through a critical period in the mother’s life and a foundational time for the health and well-being of their children. The postpartum expansion will be available to states to take effect in April 2022. Currently, individuals are not being disenrolled from Medicaid due to the federal public health emergency declaration. A formal declaration of intent to expand the postpartum coverage period will be submitted to the federal government once guidance is issued to states from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“Maternity Care Coalition remains thrilled that Pennsylvania is pursuing the American Rescue Plan’s option to extend postpartum coverage,” said MCC CEO Marianne Fray. “When access to high-quality and culturally responsive services are available to all families, health outcomes improve. In extending postpartum Medicaid, moms and birthing people will have access to critical care and resources – a necessary step forward for perinatal health equity in Pennsylvania.”
To learn more about Maternity Care Coalition, visit www.maternitycarecoalition.org.
To learn more DHS’ programs and apply for Medical Assistance and other assistance programs in Pennsylvania, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.
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