News Briefs

Missouri House committee passes postpartum extension without anti-abortion amendment

By: - March 1, 2023 6:45 am

The Missouri House chamber during the 2022 legislative session (Tim Bommel/Missouri House Communications).

The expansion of Medicaid benefits for postpartum women was unanimously approved by a House committee Tuesday afternoon.

Current law limits Medicaid benefits for postpartum women to 60 days after pregnancy ends.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bishop Davidson, R-Republic, would extend the timeline of full Medicaid benefits to one year following the end of pregnancy.

State Rep. Ashley Aune, D-Kansas City, thanked the committee for focusing on an issue she feels will benefit women and mothers across the state.

“I just want to genuinely thank the committee and the chair for hearing these bills and for giving these bills attention and for making sure we get these (bills) out of committee cleanly,” Aune said.

“I genuinely feel that women and mothers across the state are going to benefit greatly from this,” she said.

The bill has an emergency clause, which if approved, would allow the benefits to take effect as soon as the governor signs the bill.

Gov. Mike Parson’s administration recommends extending the Medicaid coverage to one year postpartum. The change is seen as benefiting an estimated 4,600 women in Missouri, according to previous testimony.

The American Rescue Plan has a provision allowing states to extend the existing postpartum Medicaid benefit to one year at no cost to the state. Twenty-eight other states have adopted the expanded benefits.

A version of the bill in the Senate was amended to include language making it clear that women who have abortions cannot receive postpartum benefits. The amendment may run afoul of federal law, putting the legislation at risk. That bill. has yet to be approved and sent to the House.

Before adjourning, the committee briefly discussed and passed  a bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Hardwick, R-Waynesville, that would increase protection against those who refuse medical treatments and procedures, including the COVID-19 vaccine. The bill would extend to public schools and other public entities, including public officials, prohibitions against requiring vaccinations or other medical treatment as a condition of employment.

The committee voted to include provisions of another bill that excludes COVID-19 immunizations from the childhood immunizations required for children attending daycare, preschool, and public, private, parochial or parish schools.

The committee voted 9-4 with one member voting “present” to move the substituted bill to the House floor.

Both bills await a date for a House floor hearing.

This story originally appeared in the Columbia Missourian. It can be republished in print or online. 

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