The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world. More than one third of maternal deaths happen after delivery, which is when a majority of health coverage cuts off for low-income mothers. Current Medicaid law covers low-income women during delivery, but cuts off 60 days after. More than 40% of mothers in the United States benefit from the system, but then lose their health coverage two months after. President Joe Biden‘s American Rescue Plan COVID-19 stimulus extends Medicaid coverage to mothers for a full year after delivery.

“These aren’t people who are uninsured because they don’t think it’s valuable, or don’t have health concerns,” said Stacey McMorrow, a principal research associate from the Urban Institute. “They are people who have medical needs.”

McMorrow’s research details that between 2015 and 2018, 11.5 percent of new mothers were not insured. Half of uninsured mothers were Latinx, and two-thirds lived in the American South. The new expansion of Medicaid coverage will help low-income mothers adhere to new guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who in 2018 recommend several post-delivery visits to doctors for mothers, as well as children.

The Biden administration’s new blanket admittance to Medicaid waives a lengthy state petition system, which required each individual state to ask the federal government if they could extend Medicaid coverage. Individual states can now extend their Medicaid access without federal approval.

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