Wolf Administration Announces Support to Extend Medicaid Postpartum Coverage to a Full Year
Last week Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ Acting Secretary Med Snead, along with the Department of Health’s Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson and the co-chairs for the Women’s Health Caucus, announced their plans to support and implement extending Medicaid coverage for postpartum birthing people beyond the current 60-days to a full year. Several speakers noted the crisis our nation currently faces during the press conference, with the U.S. having the highest maternal mortality rates among all developed countries. Further, the event highlighted systemic inequities where Black and Latinx birthing people are more likely than White birthing people to experience maternal mortality or morbidity. In Pennsylvania, pregnancy-associated deaths grew by more than 20% from 2013 to 2018.
The American Rescue Plan Act allowed states to expand Medicaid coverage for birthing people to a full year. Research has shown how critical this first year is to have medical care in supporting healthy parents and healthy babies. Of the pregnancy-associated deaths in Pennsylvania, nearly 60% occurred between six weeks and one year after giving birth. This expansion of Medicaid coverage will allow birthing people to access care when they need it the most.
The expansion is slated to take effect in April 2022. Pennsylvania will submit its plan to the federal government for approval once further guidance is issued from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Thriving PA, a nonpartisan statewide campaign of which PPC is a principal partner, has advocated for this expansion even before the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act. While the campaign focuses on various aspects of perinatal and child health, ensuring birthing people have access to the care they need will help babies and children thrive in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Awarded Federal Grant to Support Maternal and Child Health
Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services (DHS) has received $1.2 million in federal funding to be used by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) to support maternal and child health work. OCDEL will connect families to services that promote positive parenting, early developmental health, and family well-being during the five-year grant period. The office also will hire an Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) program leader and an ECCS family leader to coordinate systems to support families and young children.
The plan explicitly outlines the state’s priorities in utilizing federal funding to address learning loss, student and staff mental health, staffing challenges, and supporting special populations. Of the $5 billion allocated to Pennsylvania through the ARP, 90% went directly to school districts and charter schools, with the remaining 10% at the discretion of the General Assembly and Governor Wolf.
Through Act 24 of 2021, 2.5% of the discretionary funding goes to programs that include Career and Technical Education Centers (CTCs). Tentative allocations have been publicly released, demonstrating the amount each CTC is eligible for determined by the secondary education CTE subsidy. As part of the eGrant system, CTCs will have to apply for this funding, which they have through 2024 to spend. Additionally, if not already completed, they are required to develop an independent Health and Safety Plan, have it approved by its governing body, and post the plan on their public website by August 30th.
Senate Aging & Youth Committee Holds Hearing on Proposed Changes to the CPSL
Last week the Senate Aging and Youth Committee held a public hearing on proposed changes to the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL), specifically on provisions outlined in a memo for legislation co-sponsored by committee chairs Sen. Judy Ward (R-Blair) and Sen. Maria Collett (D-Montgomery).
Appearing at the hearing, Office of Children, Youth and Families Deputy Secretary Jon Rubin advocated for removing expungement timeframes for child protective service and general protective service reports – something that is now up to individual counties to determine. Moving forward, the reports would not be expunged at both the county and state levels, aiding administrators and caseworkers in instances where families move across county lines when there is no shared information system between jurisdictions. Retaining the records also would ensure referrals are not investigated multiple times and assist in determining future risk levels, conducting research, and providing more comprehensive data. This topic garnered the most interest during the hearing, with the Pennsylvania County Youth Administrators also echoing support for removing the timeframes. Community Legal Services argued the reports should be expunged, like how criminal cases are handled where a record is removed if a person is not convicted of a crime.
Amending Act 33 to streamline the child fatality/near fatality review process was also discussed, including changing the review process timeline for counties from 30 to 60 days and decreasing the report timeline from 90 to 60 days. In total, this would provide for a 120-day process for a full review and report. Additionally, proposed changes would allow for regional review teams rather than individual counties, adding coroners to the list of individuals receiving information during the review, removing the name of the deceased child from the report, and providing for a trend analysis team and allowing access to confidential information for team members.
As the legislature looks to return to session in September, PPC will keep you apprised of any future movement on these issues or other proposed changes to the Child Protective Services Law.
Read an article recapping the hearing or watch the recording of it.
During the first three years of life, the brains and bodies of infants and toddlers make considerable gains in development, and access to health supports and nutrition is vital. Allies for Children’s Health Policy Manager, Laura Stephany, shares Thriving PA’s Prenatal & Children’s nutrition campaign goal:
💚 To support WIC’s financial stability and modernization to ensure food security and nutrition for women and young children.
Learn more about this campaign and other focus areas: perinatal health, children’s health insurance, and lead screening and abatement at Thriving PA’s website.
In Case You Missed It...
- Last week the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed the Senate by a vote of 69 to 30; Senate Democrats will now turn their attention to a larger spending plan to continue President Biden’s agenda. The chamber also went through the “vote-a-rama” process on the $3.5 trillion federal fiscal year budget package. Contained in the budget package is $450 billion for early care and education.
- Start Strong PA, the statewide campaign for high-quality child care of which PPC is a member, sent a letter to the state’s congressional delegation calling for continued and substantial investments in the Commonwealth’s child care and early learning sector last week.
- The Office of Child Development and Early Learning has announced that as of October 1st, there will be a new process launched for Keystone STARS pre-designation and designation applications in Pennsylvania’s Professional Development (PD) Registry. Watch a video to learn more about the process.
- Pennsylvania’s Prenatal-to-Age-Three Collaborative released the second edition of PN3 Parent’s Corner, providing resources and opportunities for parents to advocate for their families and children.
- Pennsylvania KinConnector has back-to-school resources aimed at preparing kids for the upcoming school year.
- A new analysis from Child Trends finds that schools continue to be more likely to suspend Black students and students with disabilities.
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
200 North Third Street 13th Floor
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17101