Kansas lawmakers expand postpartum care to new Medicaid-covered mothers

TOPEKA – The birth of a child brings joy to families, but danger lurks in the shadows if mothers fall into postpartum depression that puts newborn babies at risk.

Prompt treatment can help one in seven mothers with symptoms including excessive crying, difficulty bonding with baby, withdrawal from family and friends, insomnia, severe anxiety, panic attacks , thoughts of harming a baby, or recurring thoughts of death or suicide. Consequences for mothers who do not have access to counseling include hypertension, overdose, suicide and even cardiovascular disease.

The Kansas Legislature and Governor Laura Kelly took a step toward alleviating that suffering with the passage of Senate Bill 267 extending the state’s postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days after birth to 12. month. More than 30% of births in Kansas are covered by Medicaid or KanCare. The law’s provisions are expected to improve postpartum services for about 9,000 Kansas mothers.

Reform was an option for states created by Congress under the US federal bailout law. Illinois, New Jersey, Virginia and Louisiana are also among the states also adopting the extension which became available on April 1 and would be in effect for five years. In Kansas, several legislative committees have recommended passage of the postpartum policy. The change was also endorsed by 29 state organizations.

Salym Soderholm, a new mother who endured postpartum depression after the birth of her second child, said the new state law will address the two-month delay that cut off Medicaid mothers from mental health services. .

“My personal need for help with my postpartum depression was not diagnosed until my first post-pregnancy checkup at six weeks, which would have left me with only two weeks of coverage under traditional Medicaid rules” , she said.

Soderholm said she fell into survival mode rather than a place where she could engage in a healthy relationship with her new child. She was in denial about the extent of her challenges. She opened up during her six-week appointment with healthcare providers.

I was not go say anything to first. Jchicken of Classes, I only, you to know, started cry,” said Soderholm, who needed to meet with a therapist quickly. “That only, I felt so a lot relief, to like only leaving the doctors Office.”

In addition to expanding therapy for mothers, expanding services could result in a higher rate of women seeking health visits and vaccinations for their children.

Racial disparities

Sapphire Garcia-Lies, founder and president of the Wichita Birth Justice Society, said the organization was created two years ago to address racial disparities in maternal and infant deaths. Infant mortality among black babies in some areas of the state is three times higher than mortality among white children, she said.

“Inot the Zip*: French coded or Wichita Birth Justice Society desks located 67214 in 2013, the Black infant mortality rate here in this piece been among the upper in the nation. This possesses do not amended a lot because so,” she said.

Garcia-Lies said she endured the tragedy of losing a child to a needless death related to medical neglect. She is convinced that timely intervention with postpartum therapy would help mothers cope with mental health issues contributing to substance use disorders and other behaviors that put mother and child at risk.

She said the incidence of postpartum depression was “extremely common” and often undiagnosed because mothers tend to internalize issues of not feeling well.

“The is a lack of Resources in these neighborhoods that are hit worse. But I think this extends beyond poverty. In in our country as a integer, a Black women with a PhD is Actually After likely for to die of childbirth that a white women who doesn’t same to have a GED. I think that that really speak volumes. And, some of those death are by suicide. They are a direct result of untreated postpartum depression,” Garcia-Lies said.

Heart disease, stroke

Kari Rinker, Kansas government relations director for the American Heart Association, said heart disease and stroke were the leading killers of pregnant women and mothers in the first year after pregnancy.

“We all want babies to have the best possible start in life. Ensuring that the future parent has access to care during pregnancy and for the first year after giving birth is key to ensuring a healthy and successful start,” she said.

Kelly, the Democratic governor seeking reelection, in January recommended that the Legislature allocate $4.3 million from the state budget for postpartum expansion under Medicaid. A bipartisan chorus of lawmakers backed the budget bill containing authorization and funding.

“His a huge victory for Kansas families,” she said. “We will definitely take this extension as a victory. He was supported, regardless of party.

She said the next step would be for the legislature to expand general Medicaid eligibility to about 150,000 low-income Kansas residents under the Affordable Care Act. The governor worked to convince the Legislature to pass that part of the ACA, but Republican leaders blocked approval.

“Well only dungeon work toward that ultimate goal of KanCare expansion,” Rinker said.

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