Ralston: Georgia’s maternal mortality rate is ‘completely unacceptable’

Ralston: Georgia's maternal mortality rate is 'completely unacceptable'

Low-income Georgia mothers would receive expanded Medicaid coverage after the birth of their babies under legislation introduced in the state House of Representatives Thursday.

The bill would authorize the state to apply for a federal waiver that would allow Georgia to offer Medicaid coverage to income-eligible women up to six months post partum. The current Georgia Medicaid program only permits coverage for up to two months.

Improving Georgia’s high maternal mortality rate is a House priority for this year’s legislative session, Speaker David Ralston told reporters Thursday.

“It is completely unacceptable for the No.-1 state in the nation in which to do business to have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country,” said Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.

Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, chaired a House study committee on maternal mortality that held hearings last summer and fall. One of the panel’s recommendations was to expand Medicaid coverage in Georgia for new mothers for one year post partum.

A review committee in 2014 that examined 101 cases of pregnancy-related deaths in Georgia between 2012 and 2014 found that 60% were preventable.

“As a nurse and nursing professor who taught maternal care, I am very much a champion for quality health care for our mothers and babies,” Cooper said.

House Bill 1114 also would extend Medicaid coverage to lactation specialists for mothers having trouble feeding their babies.

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