Tucked inside the American Rescue Plan is a Medicaid state plan option allowing states to offer pregnancy-related Medicaid coverage for one year after the end of pregnancy, extending coverage well beyond the current cutoff of 60 days postpartum.

The option will become available to state Medicaid programs beginning April 1, 2022. States can submit a Medicaid state plan amendment (SPA) to receive federal matching funds to cover postpartum people for an additional 10 months after the end of the pregnancy.

Women of color and women living in rural areas are at the greatest risk of experiencing severe maternal morbidity, such as stroke or hemorrhage. Black and Indigenous women are two to three times more likely to die of a pregnancy-related cause as White women, regardless of their insurance coverage at the time of delivery.

A significant portion of pregnancy-related deaths occur more than two months after the end of the pregnancy, after postpartum Medicaid coverage has expired for many pregnant women.

This new option will provide an opportunity to implement evidence-based interventions to help reduce these health disparities and improve the health of all new mothers. We encourage AHCCCS to begin planning to take advantage of this important opportunity.