MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — With abortion banned in nearly all cases in Alabama, Democrats and some groups have renewed their push to expand Medicaid in the state, while others say making adoption easier and supporting new moms should be the focus.
“It’s been ten years now that we’ve had the option on the table, but I hope that people feel the renewed urgency now,” Alabama Arise Executive Director Robyn Hyden said.
Last legislative session, lawmakers temporarily expanded Medicaid for new moms from 60 days to one year after giving birth. Hyden says that was a good first step.
“Letting new parents know that they’re actually going to have that coverage for a full year is a big deal and that will save parents lives. But we don’t think it’s enough, we want it to be permanent extension,” Hyden said.
Hyden says expanding Medicaid should be a priority especially considering Alabama had the third highest maternal mortality rate in the country in 2020.
“It is a pro-life issue to say that if you are trying to raise a family, we want to support you any way we can,” Hyden said.
But it won’t happen without bipartisan support. Those with the Alabama GOP say expanding Medicaid is not the best approach.
“I would like to see other solutions that are more targeted specifically to the mothers. Expanding Medicaid, I could see how that could get lumped in there, but I think there’s so much more we could do directly and immediately for them,” GOP Chairman John Wahl said.
Wahl says removing barriers to adoption should be the focus.
“Before this ruling even came down the Republican Party was pushing a bill that would lessen regulation and red tapes on adoptions,” Wahl said.
Wahl says support from employers with time off, as well as allowing adoptive parents more of a role in supporting new mothers both financially and emotionally would also help.
In addition to having one of the highest maternal mortality rates, Alabama also had the fifth highest infant mortality rate in 2020, according to the CDC.