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Expansion State: New Jersey New Report Finds Medicaid Expansion Leads to Healthier Mothers and Babies
New Jersey saw a sharp decline in the uninsured rate for women ages 18 to 44 following the state’s decision to expand Medicaid, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. Between 2013 and 2017, the uninsured rate for this group dropped from 19.7 percent to 11.6 percent.
Medicaid expansion has played a key role in reducing rates of maternal death and infant mortality and improving the potential for optimal birth outcomes that can increase the promise for a healthy childhood, according to the report. States that expanded Medicaid saw a 50 percent greater reduction in infant mortality, compared to non-expansion states.
“New Jersey residents should be proud of this significant accomplishment as ensuring women have health coverage during this critical stage of life helps both mother and child,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. “Despite improved coverage during pregnancy, troubling maternal and infant health disparities persist and it’s encouraging to see states like New Jersey leading efforts to address those disparities.”
According to the New Jersey Department of Health, the state has the second largest black-white infant mortality rate disparity in the nation, with a black infant mortality rate three times higher than for white infants.
“Efforts on the state level to address this disparity have been welcomed and much-needed,” said Cecilia Zalkind, president and CEO of Advocates for Children of New Jersey. “Most recently, in 2018, the state added a Healthy Women Healthy Families Initiative that provides additional supports to pregnant women and new moms through community health workers and doulas.”
“The message of this study is clear: Medicaid expansion can protect the lives and health of women and their babies, especially women of color who are at higher risk for a range of poor outcomes,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical and Health Officer at March of Dimes. “If mom isn’t healthy, then her baby is at higher risk for a whole host of health consequences. If she’s healthy, however, that baby has a much higher likelihood of getting the best possible start in life.”
States that have expanded Medicaid have also decreased the likelihood that women’s eligibility for coverage fluctuates, resulting in losing and regaining coverage over a relatively short span of time. Breaks in health coverage, also known as “churn,” can disrupt care and cause existing health conditions to become more serious and more difficult and expensive to treat, according to the report.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that women have access to continuous coverage prior to becoming pregnant and 12 months postpartum to reduce preventable adverse health outcomes.
“Ob-gyns have long recognized that continuous, quality and affordable medical care is vital to the health and well-being of our patients,” said Barbara Levy, M.D., vice president of Health Policy, ACOG. “This important research demonstrates that Medicaid expansion plays a critical role in reversing the steadily rising rates of maternal mortality in the United States by ensuring women have access to the care they need before, during and after childbirth.
About Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) Advocates for Children of New Jersey is a statewide child research and action organization. ACNJ works with local, state and federal leaders to identify and implement changes that will benefit New Jersey's children.
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