by Dave Williams
Capitol Beat News Service
New mothers in Georgia could receive health coverage through Medicaid for up to a year after giving birth, up from the current six months, under legislation [SB 338] that cleared the state Senate unanimously.
Gov. Brian Kemp backs the measure and included $28.2 million in his fiscal 2023 budget proposal to pay for it.
Expanding Medicaid coverage for new mothers was the top recommendation of a task force formed to examine the issue, Sen. Dean Burke (R-11, Bainbridge), the bill’s chief sponsor, told senators before Monday’s vote.
State Sen. Nan Orrock (D-36, Atlanta) noted that Georgia consistently has been among the states with the highest rate of maternal mortality. Low-income mothers used to receive Medicaid coverage for only two months postpartum in Georgia, which was increased to six months two years ago.
“This is a great leap forward,” Orrock said.
Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler (D-55, Stone Mountain) urged her colleagues to move beyond expanding coverage for new mothers to a full-blown expansion of Medicaid.
“We need to stop nibbling around the corners of this problem,” Butler said. “Senate Bill 338 will save lives. We can do more and save thousands more lives.”
Kemp and legislative Republican leaders oppose a full expansion of Medicaid as too expensive.
The bill now heads to the Georgia House of Representatives. [Ed. note: HB 72 got a second reading on January 26.]
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.