2020 Legislative Priorities: Extending Post-Partum Medicaid Coverage for New Mothers

Sarah Rafton, MSW
Executive Director, WCAAP

As WCAAP gears up for the 2020 legislative session, we have updated our 2020 legislative priorities to include extending post-partum Medicaid coverage from sixty days to one year. Currently, new mothers living at or below 198% of the Federal Poverty Level receive coverage during pregnancy and sixty days post-partum; this proposal would extend coverage to one year and would benefit over 5,000 women in the state each year. Our legislative co-chairs, early childhood co-chairs and WCAAP’s Executive Committee have strongly endorsed this addition to our 2020 priorities. The lead organizations on extending post-partum coverage are the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and Northwest Health Law Advocates (NOHLA.) Our staff will work closely with their policy/advocacy teams.

Along with this change, our support for Help Me Grow moves from our top 2020 priority list to the “support” category. WithinReach is seeking a budget proviso for increased staffing for their organization for Help Me Grow this session, and WithinReach has this work well in hand. They feel strongly supported by WCAAP and will advise and ask us for our help – which we will provide whenever and however we can in the 2020 session. We will continue to engage WithinReach on the medical home pillar and expect to be strong partners in a bigger ask for Help Me Grow in the 2021 legislative session. It is critical that WCAAP continue to advocate for medical pillar of Help Me Grow. Help Me Grow will continue to be a high priority for the Early Childhood Committee.

Since WithinReach and their lobbyists will do the lion’s share of advocacy on Help Me Grow in the 2020 session, and can likely achieve success without significant WCAAP support, we can redirect our efforts and limited capacity toward post-partum maternal well-being.

WCAAP will also develop and disseminate a one-pager on all of our early childhood priority and support items and will work closely with key legislators to advance early childhood.

Our top 2020 priorities: Access to Pediatric Care, Access to Behavioral Health Care, Post-Partum Coverage  and Vape Flavor Ban/Vape Tax Increase.

Why Post-Partum Coverage is a WCAAP Priority in 2020:

  1. Ensuring that new moms and babies receive one year of post-partum coverage aligns with our commitment to support attachment and maternal well-being in the first year of life. Maternal well-being is the most important factor contributing to child well-being in infancy. Women of color are more likely to experience post-partum mood disorders and less likely to have adequate coverage/access, so extending post-partum coverage improves health equity for families in need.
  2. The legislature is focused on “services, not systems” the 2020 session – given the tight budget. This shift aligns our priorities with the legislature’s focus.
  3. WCAAP has new external funding to support staff time on early childhood this legislative session. Program Manager Edna Maddalena will work on post-partum coverage and support Help Me Grow as requested.
  4. Ensuring one year of post-partum coverage aligns with WCAAP’s strategic objective to foster a learning collaborative on maternal well-being and attachment. This is strong alignment of our clinic-facing work and our advocacy.
  5. WCAAP members are strong advocates for ensuring that parents and babies get a good start in the critical first year of a child’s life.

I want to extend my gratitude to our legislative and early learning chairs and Executive Committee for their timely and thoughtful involvement on this change, with session starting next week and my deep appreciation for our communications manager, Jennifer Donahue, who has worked swiftly and adeptly to update our legislative materials to reflect this change and to support our strong commitment to broader early childhood issues.