The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa lawmakers advance Reynolds’ proposal to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage

The bill expands coverage to a year after birth, but fewer would qualify for benefits.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposal to expand Medicaid coverage for mothers and newborns gathered mixed responses from maternal health care advocates during a panel on the bill Monday.

Senate Study Bill 3140 would expand the length of coverage for postpartum care from two months to a full year but would lower the qualifying income threshold from 375 percent of the federal poverty level to 215 percent of the federal poverty level. The governor’s office said the reduced threshold would keep the proposal budget-neutral and keep the state in line with other state’s thresholds.

Iowa is one of only three states that has yet to enact the expansion of benefits that were expanded in the American Rescue Plan Act, which was enacted in 2021.

“The governor’s proposal offers coverage for those who truly need it,” Molly Severn, the legislative liaison with the governor’s office, said.

Maternal health care advocates praised the bill’s expansion of benefits for mothers but were concerned about reducing the number of families that could qualify under the bill.

Chaney Yeast, the director of governmental relations at UnityPoint Health Blank Children’s Hospital, said the eligibility for the program needs to be increased because Iowa faces a maternal and infant mortality crisis.

“This is a single policy lever that we can pull to improve the health of moms and babies, but also support our workforce in Iowa,” Yeast said.

Yeast said the lapse in coverage would affect working moms the most, specifically those whose employers do not offer health insurance coverage.

“So, let’s talk a little bit about who would be losing Medicaid coverage of pregnant women If we lowered the [Federal Poverty Level],” Yeast said. “We’re talking about working moms.”

RELATED: Midwives treat the growing maternal health desert in Iowa

Lawmakers on the panel decided, 3-0, to advance the bill for consideration in front of the whole Iowa Senate Health and Human Services committee.

Iowa Sen. Mark Costello, R-Imogene, said the bill would still put the state 13th among 47 states that have expanded the program, “that is still pretty high up there.”

Iowa Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, said while she supports the bill, she would like to see the state continue to lead in postpartum coverage and remain at the 375 percent of the federal poverty level.

“We should not be taking a step backward to be taking a step forward for pregnant women and babies in the state,” Petersen said. “Forty-seven states have already done it — We’re late to the game.”

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Liam Halawith, Politics Editor
Liam Halawith is a third-year student at the University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Public Policy. Before his role as Politics Editor Liam was a politics reporter for the DI. Outside of the DI Liam has interned at the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Southeast Iowa Union. This is his second year working for the DI.