A new report from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families shows that a state’s decision on whether to expand Medicaid has a profound impact on women of childbearing age (18-44). In 2019, across all racial and ethnic groups, women in non-expansion states were more likely to be uninsured than women in states that had expanded Medicaid. New Jersey is one of the states with expanded Medicaid.
Offering affordable, comprehensive and permanent health coverage to those who fall into the coverage gap in non-expansion states is a critical first step to ensuring all women have the support they need to care for themselves and their families before, during, and after pregnancy. Yet CCF’s report found that in both expansion and non-expansion states, disparities in coverage rates between racial and ethnic groups remain. Federal and state policymakers must keep working to achieve health equity in coverage and care.
These findings come amid a worsening maternal health crisis in our country. The U.S. has the highest mortality rate of any industrialized country, and that rate is climbing. We must do all that we can to combat this trend—particularly for Black and Indigenous women, who experience the highest maternal mortality rates, and Latinas, who experience some of the highest uninsured rates of any racial or ethnic group.
Research shows that expanding Medicaid health coverage helps to lower maternal mortality rates and increases access and use of health care among women of childbearing age. Closing the coverage gap is a critical first step to combatting the maternal health crisis in our country and addressing persistent racial and ethnic health inequities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for federal and state policymakers to close the Medicaid coverage gap for women of childbearing age in non-expansion states and to address persistent racial and ethnic health disparities in all states. Permanent, comprehensive health coverage is a critical step to ensuring women have the support they need to take care of themselves and their growing families before, during, and after pregnancy.