/Mississippi moms describe importance of postpartum Medicaid coverage

Mississippi moms describe importance of postpartum Medicaid coverage

The COVID-19 public emergency will end in July. If that happens, Mississippians who are currently covered by Medicaid for pregnancy will be out of coverage. People who have given birth after this date will be allowed 60 days to recuperate and schedule follow-up appointments with their doctors. They’ll be on your own after that. Many Mississippi mothers are well aware of this abrupt, rapid disintegration of safety nets. In Mississippi, 60% of all births are covered by Medicaid. This is one of the highest percentages of Medicaid coverage in the United States. Dr. Nina Ragunanthan is an OB/GYN at Delta Health Center. This federally-qualified clinic is located in Mound Bayou. She said that the majority of her patients are covered by Medicaid. She said that complications after birth contribute to the high state’s maternal mortality rate. Depression and anxiety can develop and get worse after just 60 days. Black women die three times more often from pregnancy-related complications in Mississippi than women of white race. She said, “I think this is a simple thing.” It would be good for the health and well-being of both women and babies. And it even makes economic sense. Joan Alker, executive director and cofounder of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, said that there are still ways to extend postpartum coverage. Congress is currently considering legislation that would require states to offer 12 months of Medicaid coverage after birth. Theoretically, Gov. Tate Reeves could order the state Medicaid agency ask for approval from the federal government. The legislature would still have to approve the appropriations. Senator Kevin Blackwell (R-Southaven), who wrote the bill to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage, stated that he intends to reintroduce it next year and hold an open hearing on the topic sometime in the summer. Mississippi Today interviewed six mothers from the state to learn about their experiences with Medicaid coverage. Many of these mothers gave birth during the pandemic. They found that extended coverage allowed them to access postpartum care that was not otherwise available. Others had children before the pandemic, but lost their coverage within 60 days. One mother suffered an injury in childbirth which she could not get treated for because she lost her health insurance too quickly. She still has to deal with the consequences thirteen years later. When I lost my insurance, I was 28 weeks pregnant. And I applied to Medicaid. It was easy to apply. Because I had high blood pressure during my pregnancy, I ended up needing to go a lot. Two weeks before my due date, I began having contractions. I went to the hospital. They covered my ER visit. I was able to give birth earlier than expected. They paid for my C-section and I needed emergency gallbladder surgery 2 weeks after giving birth. That was covered by the insurance. My understanding is that I am still covered by Medicaid despite the COVID pandemic. I needed to see my primary doctor for a follow-up on postpartum depression. I went in for my six week appointment and was fine. I didn’t ask anything. After my six-week visit, I had to return and I basically told my doctor, “Hey, it’s not working well.” I’m fine. My son is safe. But I feel that I am not coping well. I’m crying, and I’m so tearful. I couldn’t sleep, and was constantly up and down. He prescribed something. He said, “Follow up your primary doctor within one week.” I did and Medicaid paid for it. I would have been very unhappy if I didn’t have health insurance. I wouldn’t be able to just go in and say, “Oh, I had a doctor’s visit.” They’re going to ask for money …. Medicaid allowed me to receive the help I needed. My child could be helped without me crying. You could be a parent full-time and be able take care of my child without feeling depressed or down. Personally, I believe that men should not make decisions about women’s health. They would be able to pass the postpartum Medicaid extension if they were concerned about women’s mental and physical health. The bigger problem is that if women don’t have Medicaid, or it’s not extended to them, how can you know what could go wrong? It can lead suicide, infant death, and other serious consequences. It’s almost as if they don’t see the larger picture. My first pregnancy with Deysha, now 13, was not easy. I was not sure what to expect. My body never went back to normal after I had her. I started having back problems with small issues. It was just like I felt like I didn’t have a chance to solve a lot of my problems. The letter I received in the mail said that R’Jay would be reinstituted on March 1 [2022]. Although I was shocked, I was also very excited. It’s a great thing that I didn’t have to go back to work, and it’s also helping me deal with my anxiety and depression. It’s difficult to explain if you haven’t experienced it. It can be difficult for others to understand what you are going through and why. In my community, it seems that people don’t attempt to understand it. It’s almost like people think that you can just snap out of it all in one day. Medicaid has been an important part of my recovery. I don’t want it to be so difficult that I have to cover everything. I want to be the best possible parent for R’Jay and my other children. You only have 60 days to cancel your Medicaid if it is cancelled within 60 days after delivery. That sounds like saying, “OK, if there are any immediate needs, you need to address them now.” While you are still trying to adjust and get back to your normal life, this is what it means. During the first six to eight weeks, your body still experiences major changes. It is unrealistic to assume that mothers will not require postpartum care in such a short period of time. Since the birth of Sadie (my fifth child) in October 2021, I have been grateful that I have been able to receive extended care and that it has been paid for. Because my husband is a small-business owner, we don’t have any other insurance. My husband stays at home and I am there for the children. After 60 days, the Medicaid was approved for me and my fourth child. It took a bit longer for the postpartum depression. It’s true that I dealt with it long before I got help. That’s the thing: new moms will blow it off because they’re either adjusting or things are hard because you don’t get enough sleep. It’s easy to get lost in all the washing and dishes, and baby-sitting. You don’t think about yourself. Her mother was nine months younger than me when I got on any medication and saw someone for postpartum depression. The fact that I didn’t have any medical coverage was a major hurdle when I decided to go. I was not sure how much it would cost me to travel. I was already in a bad spot and didn’t want out of bed. I didn’t want anything. I wanted to sleep and lay down. It was anxiety that caused me to get out of bed. I panicked over little things. After the birth of her fourth baby, Elliott paid out-of-pocket for treatment for postpartum Depression. Because I had been on medication for anxiety and depression before Sadie was born, I could see a big difference. The adjustments I needed to make after having Sadie, you know? It’s much easier to just let go and not worry about finances or things like that. It doesn’t matter how much it builds up until I reach my breaking point. I felt more connected to my baby, and I feel more connected to her. I feel more like me, when she came home and settled in. For the first eight weeks, we had to stay in the NICU. We were also admitted to the PICU for several times. I don’t think that I would have been able to cope without that care. It was a difficult journey from the beginning. We were at high-risk from five weeks. He was born at 28 weeks (January 8, 2020). The University of Mississippi Medical Center’s NICU was our home for 84 days. Medicaid covered me for my six-week postpartum appointment to obtain birth control. I also needed to ensure that my pap test was okay. I received a letter saying that I would be withdrawn from Medicaid on March 31st [2020], because that was my 60-day period. I was confused and said that I didn’t know what to do. I won’t spend my maternity break in the NICU and then send him to daycare. It’s not an option. Then COVID struck in the middle of him being at UMMC. Medicaid sent me a letter stating that the program would be reactivated up to the end of 2021. It made me feel much better. I won’t lie, I had some depression issues. My baby was born at 28 weeks. He weighed 2 pounds and I could not hold or touch him. There are some problems. It’s a great blessing that I’m still on [Medicaid] right now. It’s something I wish we could do for all moms. Just because they gave birth in 2020, that doesn’t mean it is an exception. At the end of November and December 2021, my thoughts were about returning to work. This caused me extreme anxiety. I was very anxious. It was overwhelming. I called my OB/GYN. I spoke with my OB-GYN about the terror and fear I was feeling. She suggested that we set you up for a wellness visit at a therapy centre. I was then referred to a therapist. This COVID pandemic that extended coverage meant I could get it taken care of. I get it. That is something I can understand. It’s easier to have support from all parties and help from your doctor. McCardle is now back at part-time employment. McCardle plans to obtain health insurance through her employer if she works full-time. After being an RN for three years, I returned to school to become a nurse anesthesia specialist. You cannot work if you return to school. It’s so difficult that if the program finds out you work and are failing, they will not give you any excuse. I had been to travel nursing before and saved a lot of money so I thought I was prepared. Then, I discovered I was pregnant. Surprise! Surprise! I thought, “How are we going to do it, because I can’t now work.” I applied for Medicaid. They gave me 60 days after I gave birth to the baby in 2015. I believe I was allergic to one of my medications five days later. I suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety. Medicaid covered the cost of my emergency room visit. We were fortunate to have an insurance agent friend. After I was kicked out of Medicaid, he connected me with an Affordable Care Act plan. Medicaid is considered for the poor. Here I am, college-educated. I have a four-year bachelor’s degree and I was an RN. I was going back to school to earn my doctorate. Medicaid is stigmatized. It is a stigma that people see as if they are only low socioeconomically. It’s not. It is for your benefit. All those years, I paid taxes. Since I was 16, I have worked. Because I was trying to improve myself, I had to be limited in my ability to use it when I needed it. I am now a Certified Registered Nurse. I earn over six figures per year. I’m willing to help others who are in need. This is how it should work. A.M. works in Mississippi and asked that Mississippi Today not use her name. When I discovered I was pregnant, I was only 19 years old. I’m now waiting tables, not married, but pregnant. The delay in getting on Medicaid was definitely an added stress. They covered my stuff after I gave birth and it was no problem for me. They cut me off 60 days later, which I believe was the most severe time of my life. That was not the best. My son is now 13 years old and I still have residual SI [sacroiliac] pain in my joints from when he was born. After delivering him, I was unable to walk for five weeks. The doctor made an interesting discovery during the delivery. I believe he fractured or even broken my tailbone. I was unable to walk. I was unable to walk and couldn’t go outside to see what was happening with my tail bone. I ask, “What is today?” Monday. I will return to the chiropractor in two days and likely be referred to a specialist. Even if I could have [Medicaid] up to the six-month mark, I would probably have had everything taken care of by then. This is going to be a huge expense for me, and I can’t afford it now. I don’t think you should be assuming that you are following in the footsteps of low-income parents. You have someone who is going to college and working three to four jobs. And you are being told that you must work harder. I can look back at our calendar and show you all that I was doing. There was nothing else. I cannot tell you how many dollars I spent on Monster, Red Bull, Bang and coffee. There is no way to work harder and telling me to find another job is a lie. Day care is not available for me. A.M. was without health insurance for six years after losing her Medicaid coverage. Even through it all, I consider myself to be a fairly lucky person. I had nothing traumatic happen to me during those periods when I didn’t have insurance. I did break my pinky toe. It was nothing. I didn’t need to see a doctor. I didn’t nearly lose my arm or fall seriously ill. I was able to get through it.