RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Virginia is one of several states making it easier for new moms to keep Medicaid in the year after childbirth in a new policy outlined in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Before the new policy went into effect in the spring, moms on Medicaid would lose access to care within two months after the end of pregnancy.

Doctors say postpartum care is critical for new moms because it’s commonly found to be a time when depression and other health issues can arise.

The extension of coverage includes regular check-ups, behavioral health visits and specialty care, allowing moms to get treated for chronic conditions and avoid preventable complications or death.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports the new option is available to states for the next five years.

Virginia Medicaid estimates the new policy will extend coverage for more than 6,000 members in Virginia each year.

For Virginians, the coverage includes continuous eligibility, meaning Medicaid will cover postpartum care for moms for that year no matter if their income changes.

Virginia’s former secretary of health said the policy will also improve the well-being of families of color, since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women.

Individuals can apply for Medicaid online at CommonHelp. Application assisters are available at no cost to help with the process.

Visitors to the CoverVA and the Spanish-language CubreVirginia websites can find listings of application assisters in their communities.

Those who prefer to speak to someone by phone can call 1-888-221-1590. Translation and interpretation services are available in all languages.