Kansas extends postpartum KanCare coverage for new moms and babies

The cutoff goes from 60 days to 12 months.
Earlier this week, when Governor Laura Kelly signed in the state’s newest budget, it funded an extension to coverage from 60 days to 12 months.
Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 5:22 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - New Kansas mothers and babies will now have extended access to postpartum health coverage.

Earlier this week, when Governor Laura Kelly signed in the state’s newest budget, it funded an extension to coverage from 60 days to 12 months.

“When you take care of yourself, you’re able to be a better mom,” said mother of two Salym Soderholm. “That benefits the whole family but especially the babies.”

Kaiser Family Foundation reports about 30 percent of Kansas births in 2020 were covered by Medicaid.

Salym Soderholm has an eight-year-old and seven-month-old. She knows the impact access to Medicaid has on being a new mother, especially when postpartum coverage only lasts for 60 days.

“A lot of things happen when you’re pregnant. It takes a big toll on your body. You don’t recover in six weeks. You don’t recover in eight weeks. Like your eye prescription can change. You can have dental issues. I remember before when all I had was that 60 days I had to scramble to go to the dentist, to get a new eyeglass prescription,” Soderholm recalls.

With her most recent pregnancy, she was diagnosed with postpartum depression during her six-week check-in.

“They usually say there’s baby blues for a couple of weeks, and then they’ll tell you at the hospital, like, look out for these things and if it doesn’t go away after a couple of weeks, talk to somebody,” said Soderholm. “Of course, it’s really stigmatized, and so I was a little in denial for a while, and me and my partner were like, something is going on. We’ve got to do something. I was just exhausted and just not feeling like myself and not feeling like myself.”

She said access to therapy has provided her with significant help.

“Day and night. You can only talk to your friends and your partner so much, but a therapist, it’s actually structured treatment,” she said.

Soderholm currently has insurance coverage through her work but qualifies for KanCare as secondary insurance. She said that covered some of the cost of co-pays.

During her first pregnancy, Soderholm said all she had was KanCare. She says she’s excited about the change in the cutoff.

“It makes me really happy that nobody has to go through what I went through eight years ago just not having any way to really get care,” said Soderholm.

Dozens of groups in Kansas pushed for this extension, including American Heart Association and the Wichita Birth Justice Society saying it helps new mothers get the care they need should health issues be discovered during pregnancy or as a result. Advocates for the change said it gives low-income pregnant women access to more comprehensive resources, assists with early identification and better birth outcomes. Also, it lowers the risk of health problems for babies and is more likely to assist with well-child visits.

“I’ll only benefit for a few more months from it. I’m just so happy that everyone can benefit from it,” said Soderholm.

The American Heart Association also points to data that heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death in pregnant women and during the first year following pregnancy.

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