DOI: 10.1001/jamahealthforum.2024.0004 ISSN: 2689-0186

Continuous Medicaid Eligibility During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Postpartum Coverage, Health Care, and Outcomes

Jamie R. Daw, Colleen L. MacCallum-Bridges, Katy B. Kozhimannil, Lindsay K. Admon
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy


Pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), continuous Medicaid eligibility during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) created a de facto national extension of pregnancy Medicaid eligibility beyond 60 days postpartum.


To evaluate the association of continuous Medicaid eligibility with postpartum health insurance, health care use, breastfeeding, and depressive symptoms.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This cohort study using a generalized difference-in-differences design included 21 states with continuous prepolicy (2017-2019) and postpolicy (2020-2021) participation in the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS).


State-level change in Medicaid income eligibility after 60 days postpartum associated with the FFCRA measured as a percent of the federal poverty level (FPL; ie, the difference in 2020 income eligibility thresholds for pregnant people and low-income adults/parents).

Main Outcomes and Measures

Health insurance, postpartum visit attendance, contraceptive use (any effective method; long-acting reversible contraceptives), any breastfeeding and depressive symptoms at the time of the PRAMS survey (mean [SD], 4 [1.3] months postpartum).


The sample included 47 716 PRAMS respondents (64.4% aged <30 years; 18.9% Hispanic, 26.2% non-Hispanic Black, 36.3% non-Hispanic White, and 18.6% other race or ethnicity) with a Medicaid-paid birth. Based on adjusted estimates, a 100% FPL increase in postpartum Medicaid eligibility was associated with a 5.1 percentage point (pp) increase in reported postpartum Medicaid enrollment, no change in commercial coverage, and a 6.6 pp decline in uninsurance. This represents a 40% reduction in postpartum uninsurance after a Medicaid-paid birth compared with the prepolicy baseline of 16.7%. In subgroup analyses by race and ethnicity, uninsurance reductions were observed only among White and Black non-Hispanic individuals; Hispanic individuals had no change. No policy-associated changes were observed in other outcomes.

Conclusions and Relevance

In this cohort study, continuous Medicaid eligibility during the COVID-19 PHE was associated with significantly reduced postpartum uninsurance for people with Medicaid-paid births, but was not associated with postpartum visit attendance, contraception use, breastfeeding, or depressive symptoms at approximately 4 months postpartum. These findings, though limited to the context of the COVID-19 PHE, may offer preliminary insight regarding the potential impact of post-pandemic postpartum Medicaid eligibility extensions. Collection of longer-term and more comprehensive follow-up data on postpartum health care and health will be critical to evaluating the effect of ongoing postpartum policy interventions.

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