(The Center Square) – Under a bill the Iowa Senate advanced Wednesday, the Iowa Department of Human Services would expand options for a statewide maternal support program through nonprofit organizations.
Two million dollars would be appropriated from the state’s general fund to the Department of Human Services for the 2023 fiscal year to administer and provide pregnancy support services for the program. It would submit a Medicaid state plan amendment to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), requesting approval to provide six months of continuous postpartum coverage under the Medicaid program to pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid.
The state would appropriate the department $3,165,714 for the 2023 fiscal year and $3,607,098 for the 2024 fiscal year to fund the extended postpartum coverage.
The Department of Human Services would issue a request for proposals to select a program administrator. That entity would be a nonprofit that has managed statewide subcontractors providing pregnancy prevention services for at least three years.
That entity must “have a commitment to promoting healthy pregnancies and childbirth instead of abortion as a fundamental part of the program administrator’s mission,” the bill said.
Subcontractors must be nonprofits that have at least one year of operational experience in providing core pregnancy support services or managing a network of providers of pregnancy support services.
They too must have a primary mission of promoting health pregnancy and childbirth instead of abortion, the bill said.
They must at least provide counseling for women who are or may be experience “unplanned pregnancies” and provide confidential, free pregnancy support and other program services, providing each woman with accurate information on developmental characteristics of unborn children and babies.
Program funds could not be used to provide or refer pregnant women for terminations of pregnancy or encourage pregnancy termination unless the woman’s attending physician confirms the termination of pregnancy is necessary to prevent the pregnant woman’s death.
The program would provide personalized support for pregnant women to stabilize families, help women improve their prenatal nutrition and health, help parents provide responsible care for their children, and link parents with services that address individual economic and social needs.
Additionally, the program would support:
- Nutritional services and education
- Housing, education and employment assistance during pregnancy and through one year postpartum.
- Adoption education, planning and services.
- Child care assistance if necessary for a pregnant woman to receive the services.
- Parenting education and support services for up to 1 year postpartum.
- Supplies such as cribs and car seats.
- Information regarding Medicaid coverage for pregnancy care and postpartum health care coverage.
- A call center for information or scheduling appointments.
- Medical information and referrals for medical care.
- Counseling, mentoring, and educational information.
The Department of Human Services would administer the program in accordance with Chapter 17A rules, provide technical assistance to the program administrator, ensure the entity follows state and federal requirements, and collect and maintain program data.
Human Resources Committee Chairperson, State Senator. Jeff Edler, R-State Center, proposed the bill, which was passed out of subcommittee Wednesday. Edler is the vice chair of the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee.
Iowa Total Care (Centene) Legislative and Government Affairs Vice President Stacie Maass said in the Wednesday subcommittee meeting that she wants to make sure all Iowans can participate in the maternal support program.
Lobbyist Dennis Tibben, representing the American Academy of Pediatrics Iowa Chapter and Iowa Medical Society, and Iowa Catholic Conference Lobbyist Meghan Malloy were among many lobbyists who are seeking an expansion of the continuous postpartum coverage to 12 months to aid mothers’ health.
State Senator Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, said she believes the bill, as it’s currently written, is too vague regarding vetting organizations that would receive taxpayer money. She said reducing “unintended pregnancies” through education and contraception is crucial.