Sen. Carney introduces bill to expand postpartum health insurance coverage

Posted: May 07, 2021 | Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services, Senator Carney

AUGUSTA – On Wednesday, Sen. Anne Carney, D-Cape Elizabeth, introduced a bill to provide health insurance coverage and align insurance policies issued in Maine with current medical recommendations related to postpartum care. LD 1357, “An Act To Require Private Insurance Coverage for Postpartum Care,” was the subject of a public hearing before the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee. 

“The three months following the birth of a child are wonderful and challenging,” said Sen. Carney. “New moms are recovering from childbirth, caring for an infant, sometimes navigating preexisting medical conditions while simultaneously preparing to return to work at the end of 12 weeks of family medical leave. Insurance coverage that supports the ‘fourth trimester’ care model will allow Maine women to successfully transition to parenthood, stable health conditions and return to work.”

 LD 1357 would require private insurers to shift from coverage based on the single six-week visit to coverage that aligns with the “fourth trimester” care model recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. This shift can improve maternal health outcomes without significant premium increases. Complications following childbirth can include pain and bleeding, high blood pressure, lactation difficulties, and pelvic floor dysfunction. For example, more than 1/4 of U.S. women have pelvic floor disorder with symptoms such as long-term urinary incontinence. Treatment like physical therapy can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve quality of life. Private insurance coverage for postpartum care does not cover this and other necessary medical care. Most insurance policies provide coverage for postpartum care involving just one office visit at six weeks postpartum.

The Executive Director of the Maine Women’s Lobby, Destie Hohman Sprague, testified in support of this bill

“Maternal health and mortality in Maine, and the United States, is among the worst in the developed world. As one of the only countries in the world without paid family leave and the only developed country without universal health care, we experience significantly higher rates of maternal mortality and decreased maternal and postpartum health. The burden of this poor health infrastructure falls disproportionately on women of color, Black and Indigenous women, and low-income and rurally located women. Investing in the health and wellness of people who give birth – not only before birth but through the postpartum period – supports babies, parents, our workforce, and our healthcare system (by allowing people to access the care they need when they need it, instead of during emergencies).” 

LD 1357 faces further action in committee.