A coalition of women’s rights advocates are calling on Mississippi lawmakers to expand protections for babies and healthcare for mothers.
A coalition of Mississippi advocates is calling for Strong Babies and Healthy Mothers
Mississippi’s senate has recently advanced a bill out of committee that could extend postpartum Medicaid benefits from a maximum of six weeks to twelve months. A similar measure gained traction last year, but it was never taken up in the House and died on the calendar. Brittany Lampkin of Bentonia works in corrections and says she relied on postpartum Medicaid benefits in the weeks after giving birth. But she says those benefits were gone when she needed them most.
“Six weeks after I had my last baby, experiencing the trauma of losing her, it was really tough having to just go back, get up, put that smile back on. Especially in the environment that I work in,” says Lampkin.
Mississippi is one of 14 states not to expand postpartum care. Doctors claim the extension could keep families healthy and inject capital into a financially unstable healthcare system.
Among the coalition of activists calling on the legislature to extend postpartum Medicaid is Cassandra Welchlin, Executive Director of the Mississippi Black Women’s Round Table. She says postpartum care isn’t just an issue that would affect mothers.
Welchlin says “It’s a family issue, it’s a community issue, it’s a state issue. Because all the benefits that we know exist and all the roles that a mom and a woman plays. So it’s just going to be huge. And it’s going to lower the maternal mortality rate, which is what we’re trying to do.”
Mississippi has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the nation.
House leadership, as well as the Governor’s office, say they are unwilling to expand postpartum care until they see data that would prove it is effective. The Department of Medicaid has not taken a side on the issue, but officials say the department could have the capacity to extend benefits without legislative input.