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Oklahoma is expanding Medicaid access for mothers in the wake of childbirth

Oklahoma Secretary of Health Kevin Corbett speaks at a news conference Monday announcing service expansion for new mothers enrolled in SoonerCare.
Oklahoma Health Care Authority
Oklahoma Secretary of Health Kevin Corbett speaks at a news conference Monday announcing service expansion for new mothers enrolled in SoonerCare.

Oklahoma has the federal sign off it needs to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage. The policy is expected to help bring down the state’s high maternal mortality rate.

Until now, SoonerCare members got to keep their insurance for 60 days after birth. But several pregnancy-related health problems — like heart conditions, postpartum depression and dental damage — last significantly longer than that.

The new policy allows members to stay enrolled for one year after delivery. It also increases the income cutoff, so more low-wage workers will qualify.

Secretary of Health Kevin Corbett notes one in five Oklahoma women of child-bearing age are uninsured, and the state consistently ranks among the worst for pregnancy-related deaths.

"Almost 12% occur past the six-week postpartum visit," Corbett said at a news conference Monday. "More than half of these deaths are preventable and are often related to chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, mental illness and substance abuse or misuse."

The hope is extended coverage will curb deaths and keep new moms healthier.

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Catherine Sweeney was StateImpact Oklahoma's health reporter from 2020 to 2023.
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