Mississippi state senators are holding their first of four hearings to get input from experts on the state’s needs involving pregnancy, parenthood and children.
Mississippi has some of the worst health outcomes in the nation for mothers and children, and now that nearly all abortions are banned in the state lawmakers are searching for ideas to improve reproductive health. Speaking during a senate hearing around these topics is Devon Brenner, Director of the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University. She says many of the hurdles Mississippians face during and after pregnancy are intertwined, and often a solution to one problem could alleviate another.
“Some of the fixes that I think they will hear about over the next four days, some of them are very small. Such as changing eligibility for things or changing how people apply for childcare vouchers or housing vouchers,” says Brenner. “Those little fixes may not cost a lot of money, but could have a big impact for families.”
One solution the Senate is considering this year is extending post-partum Medicaid benefits from a limit of six weeks to a maximum of twelve months. The chamber was able to pass a bill last year with bipartisan support, but it was blocked by the House.
Dr. LouAnn Woodward, Vice Chancellor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, shared how this extension could affect parents and children. She says there are many increased health risks for someone who is pregnant or has given birth.
Dr. Woodward says “Working with a mom during that 12 month period, controlling blood pressure so a patient doesn’t have a second bout of eclampsia, being able to get healthy in between having babies in between pregnancies is all very important for the health of the mom and the health of the babies.”
The group is scheduled to meet today, and twice again next month. Another joint committee created by the Speaker of the House is also expected to meet before the legislative session.