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Opinion: This new law helps combat maternal mortality

One in 8 maternal deaths occur between 6 weeks and 12 months postpartum. Now women in Utah are covered

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A new law helps Utah mothers deal with health issues after their child is born.

A new law helps Utah mothers deal with health issues after their child is born.

Adobe.com

Nearly a quarter of all childbirths in the state of Utah are covered by Medicaid, yet historically the standard of postpartum health care coverage under Medicaid only provides 60 days of coverage. SB133, Modifications to Postpartum Medicaid Coverage, recognized that low-income mothers and their children deserve quality health care for 12 months post-birth. This bill extends health care coverage beyond the previous standard of 60 days and provides coverage for 12 months. New mothers that make below the federal poverty level (e.g., $27,000 for one person per year and $55,500 for a family of four) will qualify for extended coverage and matching 12-month coverage for their child. 

SB133 was a direct response to Utah mothers’ critical need for health care when their health is most at risk. National data has shown that approximately 1 in 8 maternal deaths occurs between 6 weeks and 12 months and that roughly two thirds of pregnancy-related deaths are completely preventable via access to adequate postpartum health care. However, Utah’s previous postpartum health care plan had just 60 days of coverage. SB133 now provides coverage for the entire 12-month postpartum period to ensure that all mothers and their children have access to quality health care during this critical period.  

As abortion restrictions continue to tighten in Utah, many Utahns called on legislators to pass policies that support children and their families post-birth. We thank the Utah Legislature and Gov. Spencer Cox for taking one major step forward to ensuring the health and safety of all the mothers and children of Utah.  

Emily Zheutlin

Utah Health Policy Project

West Valley City