- Numerous federal legislators are backing a bill to make pregnancy a qualifying life event, to allow women to enroll in new or different health coverage in time to obtain prenatal care. Currently, marriage, divorce, adoption, and birth all qualify yet pregnancy remains excluded.
- The Healthy MOM Act, by Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, would apply to marketplace health plans regulated under the ACA as well as plans under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
- The bill also has a provision to require health plans to cover pregnancy costs for a dependent.
The concept appears to have significant support among federal lawmakers; the Healthy MOM Act has 25 co-sponsors in the Senate, and it came about as the result of a previous effort this year by 36 senators to get the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to designate pregnancy as a qualifying life event.
HHS said it did not have the authority to do so and that it would rest on Congress.
“I think it’s very straightforward and common sense… so that everyone in the U.S. can have adequate and comprehensive prenatal care,” Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin was quoted by KAKE News.
The supporters say more than one million infants are born every year following a lack of adequate prenatal care, which increases the risk of prematurity and higher mortality rates for both mothers and infants.