A House committee on Tuesday advanced a proposal to expand health coverage for low-income mothers and their babies. HB 354, sponsored by Rep. Bishop Davidson (R-Republic), would extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for low-income women from 60 days to one year. The bill–which was combined with three identical bills sponsored by Rep. Brad Pollitt (R-Sedalia), Rep. LaKeySha Bosley (D-St. Louis), and Rep. Melanie Stinnett (R-Springfield)–is part of a bipartisan effort to address Missouri’s high maternal mortality and improve health outcomes for mothers and babies. The bill now moves to the entire House for debate.
The Missouri Senate on Thursday passed its own version of postpartum Medicaid expansion, SB 45, but not before some senators expressed concern with an abortion provision that had been added to the bill in committee. The language, which Sen. John Rizzo (D-Independence) called a “poison pill”, prohibits a woman “who knowingly receives services that are in violation of state law” from receiving the extended coverage. This would prohibit women who receive elective abortions from accessing the bill’s benefits. Some Democrats have claimed that the language will not be accepted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency required to implement the coverage.
While Democrats opposed the provision, only two members voted against the bill: Sen. Tracy McCreery (D-Olivette), who originally sponsored the bill, and Sen. Barbara Washington (D-Kansas City). They were joined by two Republicans, Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R-Arnold) and Sen. Curtis Trent (R-Springfield), who voted against the measure. In remarks before the vote, Sen. Coleman stated that while she believes that social safety programs should help the most vulnerable and that she has been “an ardent pro-life advocate” throughout her life, she disagreed with punishing women “for the coercion that they experience”.
SB 45 now moves to the House for further debate.