Arkansas officials believe that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) could lead to dramatic improvements in health care for pregnant women and new mothers in the state.
Andrew Allison, the medical services division director at the Arkansas Department of Health Services, is preparing to talk about those views Thursday at a hearing organized by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s health subcommittee.
Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., is organizing the hearing to address concerns by some Republican officials and others who say the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been slow to provide the regulations and other documents that states, employers and others need to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).
Allison, who supports PPACA, is planning to devote part of his appearance to discussing how he believes the law can help women in his state, according to a written, preliminary version of his testimony posted on the committee website.
The government already pays for a high share of health care for Arkansas women who are pregnant, Allison says in the testimony.
“In Arkansas,” Allison says, “Medicaid currently pays for nearly 66 percent of all births.”
Today, the normal Medicaid program rules forbid a state from providing Medicaid coverage for nonelderly women at any income level unless those women are pregnant or disabled.
To provide any coverage for women who are not pregnant, a state must get a waiver of the usual Medicaid program rules, Allison says.
In practice, Arkansas has been opening Medicaid to pregnant women with incomes of up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The state also has been making family planning services, and only family planning services, available to other, non-disabled women of child-bearing age who are not pregnant.