FL House proposes expanded Medicaid postpartum coverage for moms and babies, but Senate has not

Infant. Credit: Wikipedia.

The Florida House has included millions in its proposed 2021-22 state budget to extend postpartum care for mothers eligible for Medicaid to a period of 12 months or 365 days. Usually it’s been just two months.

But so far, the Florida Senate has not moved on the budget issue, creating a standoff on Medicaid expansion for moms and babies. The two sides will have to negotiate as the chambers work on finishing a new state budget by the session’s end on April 30.

The Florida House’ proposed budget includes continued state funds of about 93 million in one budget category and another 147 million for a second, adding up to nearly $250 million for that specific Medicaid expansion.

It remains unclear whether Republican Senate President Wilton Simpson or Gov. Ron DeSantis, also a Republican, will lend their support, but state lawmakers from both political parties have backed the initiative.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls, a Republican representing part of Pinellas County, declared a plan in late March to tackle inequities in maternal health care by pushing for the one-year expansion for maternal Medicaid benefits.

“The president [Wilton Simpson] has tremendous respect for the Speaker and always gives great consideration to any proposal he puts forward,” Katherine Betta, spokeswoman for the Florida Senate, said in an email to the Florida Phoenix.

The American Rescue Plan – signed by President Joe Biden in March – authorizes states the option to offer postpartum coverage under Medicaid for a year following a baby’s delivery. Before that, it was 60 days.

In a separate piece of legislation apart from the state budget, State Sen. Lauren Book, a Democrat representing part of Broward County, filed a bill (SB 238) that would revise “the period of eligibility for Medicaid for postpartum women” for a year.

But that measure has not moved in the legislative session.