Legislation would extend eligibility for postpartum care and access to milk banks
Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) has filed legislation that would support vulnerable new mothers with Medicaid coverage. SB 238 would extend Medicaid coverage for critical postpartum care to 365 days after a mother has given birth, increasing the current six-week coverage window. SB 240 would place coverage of physician-ordered donated, pasteurized breast milk – a scientifically proven lifesaving, cost effective treatment for high-risk, premature infants born at less than 3.5 pounds – on a list of allowable Medicaid services, under certain circumstances.
“Florida’s most vulnerable new moms and their babies are not currently receiving the care they need or deserve – but we have the power to change that,” says Senator Book, a champion for women and children and mother of three-year-old twins. “By extending critical postpartum care and providing access to milk bank services, we can get these moms and their babies off to a healthy start, reduce future reliance on services, and improve outcomes across the lifespan.”
Postpartum care is crucial for the health of new mothers and their children, and studies show that increased coverage leads to improved health outcomes for mothers and babies. The United States is the only industrialized nation with a maternal mortality rate that is on the rise, increasing 26% between 2000 and 2014 – with a third of these deaths occurring between one week and one year postpartum. Additionally, Black women are three to four times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related complication than non-Hispanic white women. With a growing number of maternal deaths occurring in the postpartum period, keeping women covered through Medicaid is critically important.
Coverage of donor breast milk for premature and medically at-risk infants is another important part of increasing health and wellbeing for Florida’s most at-risk and in-need. Sixty percent of Florida’s approximate 223,000 annual births are covered by Medicaid. For the less than 1% of these births where an infant has very low birth weight, physician-ordered donated, pasteurized breast milk is a proven, cost-effective way to help prevent further costly, life-threatening complications.
Healthy Start programs across the state are in strong support of both bills, which are the latest in Book’s pro-women-and-girls legislative agenda. Senator Book is also sponsoring legislation to provide menstrual products to students in Florida’s schools at no cost and to keep children safe from sexual predators.