Sen. Carney bill to help new mothers access health care becomes law

Posted: July 19, 2021 | Senator Carney

AUGUSTA — On Thursday, June 15, a bill from Sen. Anne Carney, D-Cape Elizabeth, to help more Maine mothers access postpartum health care became law. LD 265, “An Act To Provide Women Access to Affordable Postpartum Care,” became law without the governor’s signature.

Sen. Anne Carney

“By expanding families’ access to postpartum care, we can make sure they have the support they need when they often need it the most. Both mother and child face unique medical challenges during the first year after birth. Making sure there’s continued affordable access to health care means better outcomes for Maine families,” said Sen. Carney.

As amended, LD 265 would extend the period of time after giving birth that a mother may be eligible for services under MaineCare from 60 days to 12 months. This legislation allows Maine families to benefit from federal funds included in the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, providing a full year of postpartum care for those receiving MaineCare benefits during pregnancy. Additionally, the bill would require the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to report to the committee on the efficacy of the program.

“The postpartum period is a medically vulnerable period for many women,” said Rita Furlow, Senior Policy Analyst at the Maine Children’s Alliance, in testimony supporting LD 265. “A 2020 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one-quarter of all pregnancy related deaths  of women occurred between 43 days and one year following child birth. These deaths are highly preventable if women are receiving regular access to care. Providing high-quality care for mothers up to one year after birth can identify potential issues and ensure women are aware of the warning signs so they can connect to prompt follow-up care.”

The law will go into effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die.