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 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-Bainbridge, the bill’s chief sponsor, told senators before Monday’s vote.
State Sen. Nan Orrock 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 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,” said Butler, D-Stone Mountain. “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.
This story available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.