JACINTO, Miss (AP) — Speaking at an event Monday, Republican state lawmakers in Mississippi were divided in their support for new policies aimed at improving health care outcomes for children and new parents .
At a July 4 festival in northeast Mississippi, some lawmakers remained opposed to expanding postpartum Medicaid coverage for mothers, The Daily Newspaper of Northeast Mississippi reported.
Rep. Bubba Carpenter, a Republican from Burnsville, said expanding Medicaid coverage for new mothers would be a “slippery slope” because it’s one step closer to expanding the program more broadly. With the Children’s Medicare program and two months of Medicaid coverage for mothers, lawmakers are “doing enough,” Carpenter said.
Medicaid, which provides health care coverage for low-income people, is funded by a combination of federal and state dollars. Current state Medicaid policy allows eligible mothers who have given birth coverage for 60 days.
Data from the Mississippi State Department of Health revealed that 136 Mississippi mothers died during pregnancy or within a year of ending their pregnancy between 2013 and 2016. Of those deaths, 86 percent of they occurred after childbirth.
Recent Legislative Efforts to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage has failed in Mississippi, a state with high infant and maternal mortality rates. Republicans hold a majority in both houses of the legislature.
Rep. Nick Bain, a Corinthian Republican, said the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade who made abortion legal in the United States would be a test for anti-abortion lawmakers.
“In promoting life, we must sustain life,” Bain said. “It’s up to us now to put our money where our mouth is.”
In a statement responding to the Supreme Court’s decision, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch wrote that lawmakers should “weave a safety net that helps women in difficult circumstances.”
Asked about the attorney general’s statement, Rep. Steve Hopkins, a Republican from Southaven, remained adamant.
“I would not support any government intervention or policy,” Hopkins told The Associated Press in an email. “This is an area where the community and the Church must intensify and develop programs to help these women. We are called as Christians to help each other and that is what we must do, but we must do it only in the private sector.