Maternal mortality refers to the pregnancy-related death of a woman while pregnant or within one year of birth.
Physical and Behavioral Mortality Risks: In 2019, 75% of pregnancy-related deaths in MO were determined to be preventable. The leading causes of maternal mortality in MO are embolism and hemorrhage during pregnancy, infection and amniotic fluid embolism within 42 days, and gastrointestinal and cardiovascular issues within one year of birth (MO DHHS 2022).
Chronic health conditions (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, mental illness) increase the risk of death during pregnancy/postpartum, especially among ethnic minorities in MO who have higher rates of chronic disease (MO DHHS 2022; Moe 2020; Yun 2013).
Social Mortality Risks: Black Missourians are at 3x higher risk for maternal mortality than White Missourians; women in poverty in MO have 2x greater risk for maternal mortality (MO DHHS 2022). Minoritized women are more likely to live in underserved communities, lack health literacy, insurance, or have delayed access to prenatal/postpartum care (Walker 2019).
A 2021 MO law extended Medicaid to all adults within 1.4x the poverty level, but does not extend postpartum coverage to women above this threshold.
MO HealthNet for Pregnant Women (MPW) provides medical coverage during pregnancy and 60-day postpartum for women who apply while pregnant with a household income within 2x the federal poverty level ($39,440 for a family of two). In November 2022, 34,660 women were enrolled in MPW (MO DSS 2022).
The Show-Me Healthy Babies (SMHB) program covers labor, delivery, and 60 days postpartum if mothers have no access to insurance and their household income is within 2-3x the federal poverty level (up to $59,160 for a family of two). In February 2020, 3,606 women were enrolled in the SMHB program (MFFH 2022).
One in five women become uninsured in the first six months of pregnancy, increasing maternal mortality risk (Shah 2022).
Twenty-six states and DC have extended postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12-months through general Medicaid expansion (Figure 1).
Nine non-expansion states have extended some form of postpartum coverage through legislation, approved Medicaid waivers that differ from federal standards, or parts of their state budgets (Figure 1) (NCSL 2022; KFF 2022)
The federal American Rescue Plan Act funds states extending Medicaid coverage up to one year postpartum, and is available through March 2027.
Figure 1. States that have expanded 12-month postpartum coverage through Medicaid. Twenty-seven states (blue) have extended postpartum coverage through Medicaid. Seven (green) are in the planning phase. Two (light blue) have limited additional coverage (TX, 6 months; WI, 90 days). Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.