May 22, 2019

New report shows Florida lags in health coverage for pregnant women [Tampa Bay Times]

Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times writes:

“Florida has one of the highest uninsured rates for women of child-bearing age and continues to lag behind states that have expanded Medicaid, according to a new report.

The Georgetown University Center of Children and Families released a study Wednesday that showed the uninsured rate for women ages 18 to 44 in Florida is 19 percent, compared to the average of 9 percent in states that have opted for expansion of Medicaid, a federal and state program that helps cover medical costs for people with limited income and resources. The report found that Medicaid expansion played a role in reducing rates of maternal death, decreasing infant mortality rates and improving birth outcomes in those specific states. Florida is one of 14 states that has not expanded Medicaid.

‘Health coverage before, during, and after pregnancy is essential to the health and well-being of both mother and child,’ said Joan Alker, executive director of the Center of Children and Families, a nonpartisan policy and research center founded in 2005 that examines health care coverage for children and families across the United States. It is part of Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy. ‘Medicaid expansion is the single most effective way to help women of childbearing age get continuous health coverage during this critical stage of life.’

Alker went on to describe how health care can fluctuate rapidly for women as they fall in and out of care around a pregnancy. States that have expanded Medicaid saw larger decreases in those gaps of coverage, she said.“Any policy that will help boost the health of Florida mothers and infants should be a top priority for state lawmakers,” said Sadaf Knight, CEO of the Florida Policy Institute in Tallahassee [emphasis added]. ‘Not only would expanding Medicaid help more than 500,000 low-income residents access health care services — our state would receive $9 in federal funds for every $1 we invest, meaning that more state dollars would be freed up to invest in other areas.’"

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