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POLITIFACT

Harris right that Biden administration expanded postpartum Medicaid coverage to 43 states

Marta Campabadal Graus
PolitiFact.com
Vice President Kamala Harris waves as she boards Air Force 2 after visiting Savannah, Ga., on Tuesday as part of her nationwide Fight for Reproductive Freedoms tour.

Statement: Postpartum Medicaid coverage expanded from three states to 43 because of the Biden administration.

During an interview with Noticias Univision, Vice President Kamala Harris touted the Biden administration鈥檚 efforts to extend postpartum Medicaid care.聽

"When I came in as vice president, only three states extended postpartum care Medicaid coverage to 12 months. I issued a call and a challenge to all states. And now 43 states have extended postpartum care for women,"聽聽Jan. 29.聽

Postpartum health insurance covers a critical period for recovering from childbirth, which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services聽聽includes addressing complications of delivery, ensuring mental health, managing infant care and transitioning from obstetric to primary care.

Federal law previously required states to provide聽聽until 60 days postpartum. Then 2021 legislation temporarily gave states the option to extend that coverage to a full calendar year. Legislation in 2022 gave states the option to make the extension permanent.

States offer this coverage using federal funding and the state鈥檚 own money.

Health experts told PolitiFact that Harris鈥 claim 鈥 on the numbers she cited and the administration鈥檚 role 鈥 is correct.

Kamala Harris

Coverage increased from three to 43 states

When contacted for comment, Harris鈥 office sent PolitiFact two sources to support the vice president鈥檚 claim.

The first was a Medicaid Postpartum Coverage聽聽from KFF, a health policy research and analysis organization. It shows that 43 states have extended Medicaid coverage to 12 months postpartum.聽

Harris鈥 office also shared U.S. Department of Health and Human Services聽聽showing that when President Joe Biden took office in January 2021,听,听听补苍诲听聽were the only states in which Medicaid subsidized 12 months of postpartum coverage.

Did the Biden administration influence the expansion?聽聽

Different laws that Biden signed gave states an easier pathway and some federal money for this expansion. States still partially fund the care, as they did before the expansion.

The 2021聽, which Biden signed into law, enabled states to temporarily extend Medicaid coverage to 12 months postpartum. The extension began April 1, 2022, and ended last May.

KFF reported that before April 2022, states that wanted to use federal money to expand postpartum care had to do so through a聽. The waiver lets states divert money from what鈥檚 required by federal statutes and try new approaches for administering Medicaid. But the waivers allowed for only temporary changes. States could also use only state money to expand postpartum programs, rather than go through the waiver process.聽

"What the Biden administration did was create a new, arguably easier, pathway through a state plan amendment," said聽, a Brown University assistant professor of population studies. Under these plan amendments, facilitated by the American Rescue Plan, the federal government and states agree on how to administer the Medicaid program.

Later, the 2022聽, which Biden signed into law in 2023, gave states the option to permanently extend postpartum coverage to 12 months.

States that choose to make this coverage permanent cover those costs using federal and state money.聽

"The postpartum extensions are jointly funded with federal and state funds, just as all pregnancy-related coverage is under Medicaid," said Usha Ranji, KFF associate director of women鈥檚 health policy. Ranji added that the 2021 and 2022 laws did not change the financing arrangement for pregnancy-related coverage.

Many states previously wanted postpartum care expansion

础听聽on the impact of extending postpartum Medicaid found that although many states were interested in extending postpartum care, some had not because doing so required getting the temporary聽聽waiver or using state money.

Experts said that because the postpartum care expansion is still relatively new, it鈥檚 not possible yet to measure whether it has reduced postpartum hospitalizations and improved maternal mortality rates.聽

Steenland co-authored a聽聽that found a 17% reduction in hospitalizations during the first 60 days postpartum was associated with the Medicaid expansions. The study also found evidence of a smaller decrease in hospitalizations from 61 days to six months postpartum.聽

PolitiFact's ruling

Harris said postpartum Medicaid coverage expanded from three states to 43 because of the Biden administration.聽

In 2021, when the Biden administration took office, Illinois, New Jersey and Virginia were the only states that had 12 months of postpartum Medicaid coverage. Now, 43 states have it.

Biden signed a 2021 law that allowed states to temporarily expand Medicaid postpartum coverage until May 2023, using a combination of federal and state money. A law Biden signed in 2023 enabled states to make the expansion permanent.聽

We rate this claim True.

Our sources

  • Univision,听, Jan. 29, 2024
  • KFF,听, Jan. 17, 2024
  • Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission,听, accessed Feb. 1, 2024
  • CNN,听, Jun. 21, 2023
  • KFF,听, Mar. 18, 2021
  • National Library of Medicine,听, Jun. 1, 2021
  • KFF,听, Jan. 23, 2024
  • CMS.gov,听, Mar. 23, 2023聽
  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,听, accessed Jan. 31, 2024
  • Health Affairs,听, accessed Jan. 31, 2024
  • Phone interview with聽, Jan. 31, 2024
  • Email interview with聽, senior director of Government and Political Affairs, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Jan. 31, 2024
  • Email interview with聽, Deputy Press Secretary at the Office of the Vice President of the United States, Jan. 30, 2024
  • Phone interview with聽, associate director of women鈥檚 health policy at KFF, Jan. 31, 2024
  • U.S. House of Representatives Black Maternal Health Caucus,听, accessed Jan. 31, 2024
  • Medicaid.gov,听, accessed Jan. 31, 2024
  • National Academy for State Health Policy,听, Feb. 1, 2024
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,听, Apr. 1, 2022
  • Idaho Capital Sun,听, Apr. 1, 2023
  • Medicaid.gov,听, accessed Feb. 1, 2024
  • National Health Law Program,听, May. 20, 2021
  • Medicaid,听, accessed Feb. 7, 2024