Close to 9,000 New Jersey women are expected to benefit annually from an upcoming major shift in the delivery of healthcare coverage.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will expand Medicaid coverage in New Jersey to 365 days postpartum, in order to help the state in its efforts to improve maternal and infant health.

New Jersey is one of the first states in the nation to make the move — Gov. Phil Murphy allocated funding in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget to enable New Jersey to submit the federal request for the extension.

Currently, women utilizing this coverage are cut off 60 days after the end of their pregnancy.

"Becoming a parent is among life's greatest milestones, but sadly paired with significant challenges for many low-income communities," said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. "I applaud New Jersey for taking action to provide vital care for new parents and their precious babies. Expanding postpartum coverage will not only improve health outcomes among families of color — it will save lives."

In New Jersey, Black women suffer over seven times more pregnancy-related deaths than white women. According to First Lady Tammy Murphy, whose Nurture NJ plan aims to cut the maternal mortality rate in half over five years, more than 52% of maternal deaths occur postpartum, and two-thirds of those deaths may be preventable.

"Extending Medicaid coverage for a full year after delivery is not only the smartest thing we can do to prevent these tragic deaths, it's our moral obligation to do this," First Lady Murphy said.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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