[Providence, RI] – Statement on the House hearing on May 13th on H6075 (12 month postpartum), H5709 (eligibility for elderly and disabled) and H5787 (Equality in Abortion Coverage Act, a stop bans on health coverage for abortion for state employees and the Medicaid program):
“Today, the House Finance Committee will hear a package of bills to expand and enhance health coverage for low-income Rhode Islanders. These bills are about making sure that it is not just people with means who are able to get the care they need. This is more important than ever with so many people in our state continuing to struggle as a result of the global health crisis and long-standing inequities in our medical systems. This is about making sure that no one is left behind in our efforts to advance economic recovery, racial justice and health equity.
No matter where we live, what we look like or how much money we have, all Rhode Islanders should have the resources and fair opportunities to ensure that we can thrive as individuals and communities. The fact is that we can and we must do better! The United States has the worst maternal mortality rate among comparable developed nations. Black women in the US are 3 to 4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts.
The Medicaid program covers 37 percent of all births in Rhode Island, but coverage for pregnant women ends after 60 days, leaving many new mothers without the treatment and services they need. Over half of pregnancy-associated deaths happen in the first year after birth, a time when mothers need affordable access to care more than ever. Now, they may finally get it with the introduction of H6075, which extends coverage for one year postpartum.
This bill is an important start to addressing higher risks for Black women who are pregnant. But we can still do more. Access to safe, affordable abortion is also critical to promoting better maternal health and outcomes for the entire family. Landmark research shows that delaying or denying women abortion services has long-term health and economic consequences for families.
We know that over half of women seeking abortions have already had at least one child or birth. They are best equipped to decide for themselves when and how to expand their families. Proactive measures like the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act (H5787) would support the health and well-being of Rhode Islanders by providing everyone with the options they need to manage their health and plan and support their families. We should each be able to decide when to become parents or add to our families and we should have affordable access to care to ensure safe abortion, health pregnancies and that we can all raise our families with dignity. This not only helps individuals, but also creates stronger, healthier communities.”
“We are fighting to dismantle oppression in every system, including healthcare. Getting rid of policies that exist simply to push affordable abortion care out of reach and looking for ways to better meet the needs of women and families are a great place to start. We need to take bold action to close the gaps in access to the services we need to manage our health, plan our families and truly thrive as individuals and communities.”
Jocelyn Foye, Co-director, TWP
Jocelyn Foye is available for interview by request.