Expanded coverage lets OK moms get healthcare for a year after birth

Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 10:15 PM CDT
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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt announced big changes for women’s healthcare Monday morning.

Healthcare coverage for pregnant and postpartum mothers who use Soonercare is increasing from 6-8 weeks to 12 months.

Dr. Chad Smith, an OB-GYN and the Chief Medical Officer for Mercy Oklahoma City, said more than half of births in Oklahoma are funded by Medicaid.

“Under the current circumstances when someone’s funded by Medicaid for their childbirth, that usually runs out between 6-8 weeks of the birth of their child,” Smith said.

An amendment extending that coverage for new moms was approved Monday, according to the governor’s office.

“Traditionally Medicaid would cover any newborn in the state of Oklahoma and maternal coverage would just cover up to 6-8 weeks postpartum,” Smith said.

But for many moms, 6 weeks of coverage doesn’t cut it.

smith says the stress of pregnancy means mothers need to monitor existing medical problems.

“We look at pregnancy as being a stress test for a woman, and if she already has chronic health conditions before becoming pregnant, we know that pregnancy itself can cause more stress upon the body,” Smith said. “So that and so that extended postpartum time frame will allow physicians or providers to work with their patients to make sure that they’re going back to their pre-pregnancy state as best as we can get them.”

Smith said extending coverage can help doctors work with patients to improve overall health, and moms will be healthier for any more potential pregnancies, improving the maternal mortality rate.

“Postpartum depression or management of diabetes, chronic hypertension or high blood pressure, those are probably the three biggest scenarios,” Smith said.

Smith said the stress of surgery means pregnant moms often wait to get necessary procedures.

This extension lets a new mom get the surgery she needs when she’s ready.