Lawmakers voted on Thursday to move forward with a bill extending postpartum medicaid coverage to a year. Without legislative action eligible moms will only be covered for two months once a pandemic era federal mandate prohibiting disenrollment from Medicaid expires, potentially in October when the public health emergency sunsets. The motion to sponsor the bill narrowly passed by a 6-5 vote in the Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Committee meeting. 

History: The federal government postponed Medicaid disenrollment during the pandemic, allowing hundreds of Medicaid-eligible mothers to keep their health insurance beyond the standard 60 day cap. 

  • Prior to the de-facto extension, about 70% of pregnant Medicaid recipients lost their insurance 60 days after giving birth, according to research from the Legislative Service Office. 
  • Funds are available from the American Rescue Plan Act for states to officially extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for a full year. 
  • The program would sunset in 2027. 
  • Medicaid covers 33% of births in Wyoming. 

Why it Matters: Advocates say the extension would ensure new mothers receive substance use treatment and mental health care. 

  • According to a report from the Wyoming Community Foundation 31 women made claims “for serious medical conditions,” and 561 made mental health care claims in 2020 because of extended postpartum Medicaid coverage. 

Who said what: 

  • “Ensuring that low income individuals and families continue to have access to affordable health coverage during the postpartum period is one of the most critical ways that we can reduce cancer incidence and mortality,” said Ariel Bernath, Wyoming Engagement Manager with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. 
  • “By extending this to 12 months we are opening the chance for postpartum women to engage in those mental health services and engage in that continuity of care, which is vital for those moms to be able to provide those stable environments for their new babies, especially living in a rural state,” Wyoming Counseling Association lobbyist Lindsay Simineo said. 
  • “We have federal government ties in everything we do. This bill, this extension, this increase in cost to our state, to our citizens is not authorized in our constitution. So I’m going to be a ‘no’ vote,” said Sen. Lynn Hutchings (R-Cheyenne). 

Sofia Jeremias reports on healthcare, education and the economy in Wyoming. She received her master's degree from the Columbia Journalism School and previously reported on the West for Deseret News.

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  1. Senator Hutchings is one of the Legislators that has worked tirelessly to block reproductive health care for women & to force women to continue a pregnancy despite the harm it may do to her mental and physical health and to her families health. This has been her main priority. It is clear her motivation has nothing to do with supporting women & families but forcing her religious beliefs on all Wyoming citizens. It is also clear she still doesn’t understand the constitution.

  2. The Republicans particularly profess to be champions of freedom and rights. The one right that preserve most is our right to DIE. We have by far the highest maternal death rate of any industrial nation in the world. A large part of this death rate is due to lack of medical beyond 60 days for mothers. This can alleviated by extending Medicaid coverage to twelve months for a third of the births in Wyoming or should we let them…..