AJC In-Depth: Medicaid limit, OBGYN shortage in Georgia hamper efforts to limit maternal mortality rate
Georgia has consistently ranked among the worst U.S. states for maternal deaths. Mortality rates are particularly dismal for Black women: they are three to four times more likely to die when they become mothers in Georgia than white women.
A state study committee found that 60% of Georgia's maternal deaths between 2012 and 2014 were preventable, and it recommended the Legislature extend Medicaid for a year after low-income women give birth. Most fatalities happen not during childbirth, but in the months following due to factors like postpartum depression, high blood pressure and cardiac conditions, according to the study committee.
This year’s tight fiscal climate, however, made legislators scale back their ambitions.
Even before the coronavirus blew a hole in the state budget, GOP leaders opted to provide for six months of coverage rather than 12, and senators this week amended the bill so that it wouldn't be effective until the General Assembly finds the money to pay for it. That might not be until 2021 or later.
House Bill 1114 would also clear the way for Medicaid coverage for lactation care and services to pregnant and lactating women and their children.
Staff writer Maya T. Prabhu contributed to this article.