Mother and baby. Credit: Image Source/Getty Images
Following a major health initiative to expand Medicaid coverage for pregnant women and their babies that became law in July, Florida is still waiting on federal approval to fully implement the program that aims to improve maternal health outcomes for some low-income families.
During a committee meeting in the Florida House on Monday, an official from Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration told state lawmakers that the feds haven’t approved the program as of yet.
But in early September, the agency had submitted a plan to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to get the program going.
Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls had spearheaded the effort to spend nearly $240 million in the 2021-22 state budget for the program.
“We are poised to implement a significant priority of this chamber,” said Simone Marstiller, secretary of Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.
“This investment of 240 million dollars by this Legislature has the potential to reduce maternal mortality rates and improve health outcomes for both mothers and their infants. And we are awaiting final approval on that so we can get this program implemented.”
As to the postpartum Medicaid expansion, the law passed this summer to extend the Medicaid coverage from two months to a full year, but the federal government has already provided continuous coverage for recipients through a federal public health emergency declaration. When that emergency ends, the state will have to get approval from the federal government to launch the program.
Meanwhile, Florida has seen a major increase in Medicaid enrollment overall during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a total of 4.9 million recipients, Marstiller added.
“That is by far the highest enrollment the state has ever seen,” she said.
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