September 28, 2023 5:11 am

Opinion

Mothers in Arizona and Across the U.S. Depend on Medicaid | Opinion

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by Morgan Tucker, Arizona Mirror
May 19, 2023

America has a maternal mortality crisis. 

Research shows the U.S. mortality rate is more than three times higher than other industrialized nations, with an average of 24 deaths per 100,000 births in 2020. This crisis, however, overwhelmingly impacts mothers of color — mortality rates for Black and American Indian and Alaska Native women are two and three times higher than the mortality rates for white women. 

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Medicaid — known as AHCCCS in Arizona — is a vital tool to help combat this crisis and provide the care that moms and kids in Arizona rely on. Medicaid is able to provide the critical care that is essential to help new moms stay healthy and babies grow up healthy. Despite Medicaid’s importance to Arizona families, some in Congress are playing politics with people’s healthcare, threatening this critical coverage for millions of people.

Over 90 million Americans, including 2.5 million people in Arizona, receive care through Medicaid in every community across the state. Medicaid covers more than 41 million children nationally and over 900,000 in Arizona, and the program pays for 41% of all births nationwide. Half of children in America and Arizona rely on Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, called KidsCare in Arizona, for their health care. Thanks to Medicaid, moms and babies can get the care they need before, during, and after birth, preventing devastating outcomes.

But a narrow majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is now holding the economy hostage through Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s plan, which includes a 22% cut to critical health programs and bureaucratic new reporting requirements for Medicaid enrollees that threaten to throw millions off of their coverage — disproportionately harming children, women, people of color, and rural residents. 

Medicaid is proven to save lives, help people from all backgrounds stay healthy, keep rural hospitals and other safety net providers open, and support needed preventive care. It must be protected and strengthened, not gutted through more anti-health care political schemes.

Not only do some members in Congress want to slash Medicaid, but they continue to block Medicaid expansion across 10 states. Medicaid expansion is a lifeline for Arizonans, and has been proven to not only help fill in the gaps in coverage, but lead to better health and well-being of moms and kids.

In the wealthiest nation on earth, no one should have to risk their lives because they can’t afford the care they need. At a time when politicians refuse to give up their war on health care and threaten to rip coverage away from moms and kids, it has never been more critical to remain focused on protecting affordable health care access regardless of who you are and where you live.

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Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.