Cephas announces Medicaid extension for postpartum care, highlights new money for maternal health initiatives

PHILADELPHIA, April 18 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas joined state Sen. Tim Kearney and Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Meg Snead today at the Maternity Care Coalition in Philadelphia to highlight the implementation of Opt In PA, an initiative extending Medicaid support for postpartum individuals from 60 days to one year across the state.

President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan Act included a provision that gives states an option to extend Medicaid coverage up to one year postpartum; the Pa. Department of Human Services made the decision to opt into this provision, extending that coverage from 60 days to one year. Implementation was effective April 1.

“Constituents who use Medicaid should contact their providers to see how this impacts them and their care,” said Cephas, who co-chairs the General Assembly’s Women’s Health Caucus and serves on the Pennsylvania Commission for Women.

Cephas also discussed a recently committed $25.6 million in American Rescue Plan funding for a new maternal and child health initiative in Pennsylvania called the COVID-19 Nurturing Maternal and Child Health Initiative. The initiative recognizes the impact the pandemic had on Pennsylvania communities and makes strategic investments to implement innovative and informed improvements into the public health continuum. NMCH will reach millions of more birthing parents and children through doula services, targeted services, healthy eating pilot programs and lead remediation.

“We’re addressing the very social determinants of health that contribute to a real crisis in Pennsylvania," Cephas said. “The administration’s opting Pennsylvania into extended Medicaid was a major move toward better outcomes going forward, as well.”

Cephas is an ardent fighter for health equity and improved maternal health care in Philadelphia and across the commonwealth. She has introduced a series of legislation (H.Bs. 1173-1176), which would also extend Medicaid coverage to doula services, while also creating a Doula Advisory Board; require implicit bias training for health care professionals; and categorize maternal morbidity as a reportable event for better tracking of the issue. 

Medicaid covers almost half of births nationally and 35% of births in Pennsylvania as of 2019.

“While this is an important step in improving access to care for some of our most vulnerable populations, it is just the beginning,” Cephas said. “I look forward to strategic partnerships and continued efforts to improve maternal health outcomes and access to care across the state.”