January 29, 2020/Press

ICYMI – Republicans Refusal to Expand Medicaid is Costing African-American Babies Their Lives

Raleigh – Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina is a crucial step in combating the mortality crisis facing the African American community, according to a new, exhaustive report in the News & Observer. This report represents even more evidence that Republicans’ obstructionism, particularly their refusal to expand Medicaid, is not only costing North Carolinians their tax dollars and teacher’s their raises, it is costing Babies their lives. 

The entire country is facing a African American maternal and infant mortality crisis with Black Americans facing 2.3 times the infant mortality rate as non-Hispanic White Americans. Researchers have found that states that have expanded Medicaid coverage see the quickest decline in deaths of African American babies, compared to states who have not expanded. 

Yet Republicans refuse to accept the evidence and instead steadfastly stand against expanding life saving health care coverage. Some, like Sen. Ralph Hise, seem to believe they know better than the experts: “They’re showing a correlation, they’re not showing a causality,” Sen. Hise told The News & Observer. This glib obstructionism flies in the face of all evidence that Medicaid expansion saves lives. 

Expanding Medicaid remains a top priority for Democrats, particularly after a report found that every single county in North Carolina would benefit from expansion. While rural leaders, leaders of local health care systems, and local Republican leaders continue to call on state Republicans to expand Medicaid, Republicans continue to ignore their requests and make politically motivated decisions rather than making important progress for their constituents. 

The News & Observer: Here’s what could help save more black infants’ lives. But NC isn’t doing it.
By Lynn Bonner
January 29, 2020

  • Deaths of African-American babies declined most quickly in states that expanded Medicaid coverage, researchers have found.
  • Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has made Medicaid expansion one of the central goals of his administration and used the narrowing of the differences in infant deaths by race as one of the rationales for insuring more adults.
  • In 2018, North Carolina’s death rate for all babies dropped to its lowest level in decades, and the difference between black and white death rates narrowed slightly. But black babies were 2.44 times more likely to die in 2018 than white infants, a wider gap than 2.33 times in 1999. Information for 2019 is not yet available.
  • As it stands in North Carolina, low-income women who don’t normally qualify for Medicaid can use it if they become pregnant, to cover conditions related to their pregnancy. The coverage ends two months after they give birth, about enough time to schedule a postpartum visit.
  • She said allowing new mothers to stay on Medicaid for more than two months is important to diagnosing and treating postpartum depression and other illnesses that may influence the quality of care mothers give their children.
  • Lack of medical coverage means that women with high blood pressure or depression don’t get those conditions under control before they become pregnant, she said.