We hear the statistics so often that they do not really seem to matter anymore. Mississippi is number one in the nation in infant mortality rate, premature birth rate, fetal demise rate, low birthweight rate and on and on. Our maternal mortality rate is double the national average. Fewer children in Mississippi make it to their first birthday than in any other state. The numbers are daunting but consequently small changes can make a huge impact. A program like 12-month postpartum care for eligible mothers could have a big impact on our national rankings and the welfare of our mothers and babies. We have a real opportunity to help families in Mississippi. Approximately 65 percent of babies born in Mississippi are born to moms on Medicaid. As a pediatrician practicing in South Mississippi, I can tell you that many of these moms are working moms. They are teachers, preachers, college students, waitresses, and more. Extending Medicaid to 12 months postpartum will not deter them from working. Postpartum care is not paid maternity leave or a cash payment of any sort. The program simply provides them with much needed health insurance that allows women to access much needed health care services during this critical time.
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