Download this fact sheet (Nov. 2021; 2 pages; pdf)

Nothing changes your life like a brand-new baby, but one thing a new birth shouldn’t change is whether or not you can get health insurance.

The Problem

New mothers in New Mexico are currently only eligible for just 2 months of postpartum Medicaid coverage. This, unfortunately, forces parents to find new health insurance only 60 days after giving birth, while caring for their newborns and managing their own postpartum health concerns.[1] Changing health insurance often results in gaps in coverage and delays in care that can lead to an increased use of emergency services and worse overall health outcomes.[2]

Losing postpartum Medicaid coverage is dangerous for parents and babies – especially in communities of color:

  • The rates of maternal and infant mortality are highest for people of color.
    • Infants born to mothers of color have higher mortality rates due, in part, to a lack of access to health care.[3]
  • Black and Hispanic births are disproportionally covered through Medicaid, and Black and Hispanic mothers are almost twice as likely to be uninsured postpartum than are white mothers.[4] Changing Medicaid to include 12 months of postpartum care could help advance health equity.

Without postpartum coverage, new parents can miss out on mental health care that supports healthy infant development. 

  • Perinatal depression affects up to 1 in 4 pregnant people, and estimates show that more than half of infants living in poverty are being raised by mothers suffering from some form of depression.[5]
  • Untreated maternal postpartum depression is associated with child abuse and developmental delays in children.[6]

By the Numbers

  • New Mexico’s maternal mortality rate of 28 deaths per 100,000 live births is higher than the national average of 20 deaths.[7]
  • Nationally, one-third of maternal deaths occur within the first year postpartum.[8]
  • 60% of maternal deaths are preventable.[9]
  • In New Mexico, the maternal mortality rate is four times higher for Black mothers than the state average for all races.[10]
  • Of all maternal deaths in New Mexico, 20% are of Native American mothers even though Native Americans compose 11% of the state population.[11]
  • 71% of births in New Mexico are covered by Medicaid – the highest percentage in the country.[12] Because of this high coverage, extending postpartum Medicaid would have a large impact on the health of New Mexico mothers and infants.

The Solution

New Mexico lawmakers can prevent maternal deaths by extending Medicaid’s postpartum coverage to a full year after birth. Extended coverage will allow mothers and newborns to get the services they need to stay healthy and thrive.

  • Through the American Rescue Plan Act, states have the option of extending Medicaid postpartum coverage to 1 year. The Act gives states federal matching funds to offer the additional 10 months of full-benefit Medicaid coverage.[13]
  • 26 states are taking action to extend postpartum coverage, including Florida and Colorado, which have already appropriated state matching funds to implement an extension of postpartum Medicaid when it comes available April 1, 2022.[14]
  • Expanding health care access for parents improves the health and other long-term outcomes for children.[15]
  • By extending postpartum Medicaid, lawmakers will ensure that mothers and infants of color will be able to access the care they need, reduce racial disparities for maternal and infant health outcomes, and create a more equitable health care coverage system for all New Mexico families.[16]

[1]Health Insurance Coverage Patterns Before and After Implementation of the Affordable Care Act, New Mexico PRAMS,” NM Department of Health, 2020
[2]High Rates of Perinatal Insurance Churn Persist After the ACA,” Health Affairs, 2019
[3]Racial Disparities in Maternal and Infant Health: An Overview,” Kaiser Family Foundation, 2020
[4]Expanding Medical Postpartum Care is Critical for Black Maternal Health,” The Center for Law and Social Policy, 2021
[5]Maternal Depression Screening and Treatment: A Critical Role for Medicaid in the Care of Mothers and Children,” Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, 2016
[6] “Clinical Report—Incorporating Recognition and Management of Perinatal and Postpartum Depression into Pediatric Practice,” American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010
[7]New Mexico Selected Health Statistics Annual Report,” NM Department of Health, 2017; “Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2019,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2019
[8]Pregnancy-Related Deaths,” CDC, 2019
[9] Ibid
[10]New Mexico Birth Equity Collaborative Legislative Brief,” New Mexico Birth Equity Collaborative, 2020
[11]New Mexico Maternal Mortality Review Update,” Sharon Phelan MD, 2018; “Population Estimates – New Mexico,” U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts, 2019
[12]Births Financed by Medicaid,” Kaiser Family Foundation, 2018
[13]Advancing Maternal and Infant Health by Extending the Postpartum Coverage Period,” Medicaid and CHIP Payment Access Commission, 2021; “High Rates of Perinatal Insurance Churn Persist After the ACA
[14]Medicaid Postpartum Coverage Extension Tracker,” Kaiser Family Foundation, 2021
[15] “Parents’ and Caregivers’ Health Insurance Supports Children’s Healthy Development,” Society for Research in Child Development, June 2019
[16]Medicaid Expansion Narrows Maternal Health Coverage Gaps, but Racial Disparities Persist,” Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, 2021