RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia has led the nation in expanding health care for pregnant women and children, and now health advocates there are urging the U.S. Senate to pass the Build Back Better Act to bring similar coverage to other states.
Chloe Edwards, policy analyst at Voices for Virginia’s Children, pointed out the Commonwealth provides 12-month postpartum coverage for new moms and recently expanded coverage to include non-documented women.
She noted Build Back Better also would provide a year of postpartum coverage by improving Medicaid. She thinks it could tackle what she calls a maternal health crisis disproportionately impacting African American women.
“We know that Black women in Virginia are more likely to die during childbirth,” Edwards emphasized. “So by setting new standards that relate to postpartum and Medicaid, and longstanding policy recommendations advocates have been really pushing, we know improves the maternal and infant mortality disparity.”
The U.S. House already has passed the reconciliation bill, which also would permanently fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Opponents of the $2 trillion bill say it costs too much, and the Senate may strip out even more provisions than the House did, but health-care promoters say the Act would provide essential benefits to reverse disparities in coverage for low-income children.
Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families, co-authored a new brief, which revealed one in 10 children had a gap in coverage over the course of 12 months during the early Trump years.
“And these gaps in coverage were more common in Latino children and Black children,” Alker reported. “And 50% of children who had a gap in coverage did not see a doctor for the entire year that we looked at.”
Latino kids experienced a 14% gap and Black children 12%, while white children had about a 7% gap.
Children in Virginia qualify for Medicaid or the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS) program, if they are in a family of three earning about $45,000 a year or less.
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