ATLANTA — Low-income pregnant women in Georgia should receive Medicaid coverage for one year after giving birth, a legislative study committee is recommending.
The proposal to expand Medicaid coverage for eligible women from the current limit of two months postpartum highlights a 14-page report issued by the state House of Representatives Study Committee on Maternal Mortality.
The panel was formed last year to look into why Georgia is consistently among the 10 states with the highest maternal death rate.
A review committee the General Assembly created in 2014 that examined 101 cases of pregnancy-related deaths in Georgia from 2012 through 2014 estimated that 60% were preventable.
Besides extending Medicaid coverage for pregnant women to one year, the study committee recommended the General Assembly pass legislation requiring an autopsy following any woman’s death during pregnancy or up to one year after giving birth.
Several of the panel’s recommendations were aimed at the particularly high rates of maternal mortality among black women in Georgia, women living in rural communities and among obese women suffering from conditions that affect pregnancy outcomes, including hypertension and diabetes.
The review committee found that pregnancy-related mortality among black, non-Hispanic women in Georgia during the three years it researched was 47 deaths per 100,000 live births, three to four times higher than among white, non-Hispanic women.
The study committee suggested the state encourage hospitals and medical societies to provide training in racial sensitivity for physicians, nurses and other health-care workers.
To address geographic disparities in pregnancy outcomes, the panel suggested the state continue to fund and support efforts to increase Georgia’s rural health-care workforce and expand the availability of telemedicine services by providing incentives that prevent telemedicine from being a money-loser for providers.
The committee also recommended continuing efforts to combat the obesity epidemic in Georgia.