Dems call for open enrollment for pregnant women

Dems call for open enrollment for pregnant women
© Getty Images

Democrats are asking the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to improve women’s access to heath care by instituting a special open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act for women when they find out they are pregnant.

ADVERTISEMENT
On Tuesday, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenate advances Trump's health secretary nominee It's School Choice Week, and Michigan is at the fore of the celebration Collins 'optimistic' ObamaCare fixes will pass MORE (D-Wash.) sent a letter with 36 signatures to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell urging her to address a gap in coverage that could leave women without access to maternity care.

“Good maternity care is essential for the well-being of children, and studies show that maternal mortality rates are three to four times higher for women who do not receive prenatal care,” said the letter, signed by Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCommunity health centers await funding that expired months ago Democrats mull keeping Senate in session overnight Top Dem presses Trump health official on potential ethics violation MORE (D-Ore.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandOvernight Regulation: Trump’s former chemical safety nominee leaving EPA | Senate confirms Powell as Fed chair | NTSB 'gathering information' on Tesla crash Overnight Finance: Senate confirms Powell as Fed chair | Mulvaney declares 'new mission' for consumer bureau | Trump says solar tariffs will boost jobs Senate confirms Jerome Powell as Fed chairman MORE (D-N.Y.), Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiClinton: White House slow-walking Russia sanctions Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns Gore wishes Mikulski a happy birthday at 'Inconvenient Sequel' premiere MORE (D-Md.) and Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinPriebus backs Vukmir in Wisconsin GOP primary RNC launches effort against red-state Dems over shutdown NRSC targets red-state Dems over shutdown MORE (D-Wis.). “Millions of women have benefitted from this protection, and we appreciate your leadership in getting this done.”

Without health insurance, lawmakers said, women will either be forced to forgo this critical care of face lofty out-of-pocket costs.

In a statement to NPR last month, Burwell said HHS has not included pregnancy as a qualifying life event because it was following insurance companies in determining open enrollment periods.

But, she said, HHS is open to considering the issue.

In a statement, Christina Postolowski, health policy manager of Young Invincibles, said she’s thrilled to see a growing chorus of leaders calling on the administration to create a special open enrollment period to make maternity coverage available to pregnant women year-round.  

According to Postolowski’s December 2014 report “Without Maternity Coverage” maternity care and delivery ranges from $10,000 to $20,000 without complications.

“Prenatal visits are crucial for detecting rare but severe diseases that can be caused by or diagnosed during pregnancy – including preeclampsia, placental abruption, diabetes, heart conditions, and Graves’ disease. If untreated, these diseases can lead to severe morbidity or death of the mother and/or fetus,” the report said.