After 52 deaths, TennCare wants to extend postpartum coverage from two months to one year
TJC’s TAKEAWAY: This is a tremendous step in the right direction to address rising maternal mortality. Tennessee is currently ranked 41st in maternal mortality, moving down 8 spots from the previous year. For better health outcomes, women should have access to health coverage before, during, and after pregnancy.
TennCare officials want to dramatically expand postpartum health insurance for thousands of low-income women in response to a slew of “preventable” deaths of new mothers who timed out of existing coverage.
Currently, low-income women are eligible for TennCare coverage for two months after giving birth. TennCare Deputy Director Stephen Smith revealed during a budget hearing on Wednesday that the agency hopes to expand this coverage to one year.
Smith said the proposed change was spurred by 52 Tennessee women who died in 2017 within a year of giving birth. Each of these women received TennCare postpartum insurance, but most died after their two-month coverage window ended.