Bad news on state’s health care
At its initial hearing recently, members of the Senate Study Group on Women, Children and Families announced by Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade were told Mississippi ranks worst or near-worst in infant and maternal mortality, poverty, hunger, access to health care and child care.
Heather Hanna, assistant research professor at the Mississippi State University Social Science Research, says 39 percent of children in Mississippi belong to households with no full-time working parent, 43 percent of Black children in Mississippi live in poverty and women in Mississippi, although they have higher rates of educational attainment than men, earn less.
The various experts also point out that 46% of Mississippi children are in single-parent homes, one in five children experienced hunger in the last year, nine out of 1,000 babies in Mississippi die. In the rural Delta, there are 4,000 children for every one pediatrician, and statewide that number is only slightly better at 2,000 for every pediatrician. Mississippi has alarming rates of premature, low-weight babies being born because many counties have no OB/GYN, and many mothers do not receive proper prenatal or postpartum care.
Since young women have problems obtaining or affording long-acting, reversible contraception, the state Health Department is estimating Mississippi will see an additional 5,000 unplanned births a year now that abortions are banned.
Hosemann said it’s now incumbent on lawmakers to come up with policies to help mothers and children, and House Speaker Philip Gunn has created a commission with a similar charge.
“As a state we are in the wrong place on a lot of lists,” Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, told the nine-member, bipartisan committee. Dr. Daniel Edney, director of the state Department of Health, showed lawmakers a chart with a national report card that ranks states on numerous health issues. “We’re not just 50th,” Edney said. “We’re 50th by a mile. I think if we had 60 states we’d be 60th. The Department of Health is absolutely committed to work with you and do whatever it takes to get us off the bottom.”
“What we’re asking for here is just a right to life,” said Angela Grayson, lead organizer for Black Women Vote Coalition and advocacy and outreach coordinator for The Lighthouse.
In Mississippi, about 60% of births are to women on Medicaid, but state lawmakers have resisted extending standard postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 12 months in their ongoing fight against Medicaid expansion under “Obamacare.” Mississippi remains one of only 12 states that has not expanded Medicaid coverage.
Woodward, Edney and other presenters voiced support for extending postpartum Medicaid coverage.
EDITOR’S NOTE. Excerpted from a Mississippi Today report.