Tester sponsors bill to improve Affordable Care Act

Healthy MOM Act would create a special enrollment period for pregnant women

(U.S. Senate) – In his continuing effort to improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Senator Jon Tester has introduced new legislation to give pregnant women more health care options to best fit their family’s needs.

Tester’s Healthy Maternity and Obstetric Medicine Act, or Healthy MOM Act, will create a special enrollment period for pregnant women so they can change or purchase health insurance on the Marketplace throughout the year.

“Real life doesn’t always line up with fixed dates and open enrollment periods,” Tester said. “This simple fix to the ACA will ensure that mothers receive the care they need. Every family should have access to the health insurance options that best fit their specific needs.”

Currently, people are only eligible to purchase or change their health insurance during a special enrollment period if they experience a “qualifying life event” such as getting married, giving birth, or adopting a child. But as the Affordable Care Act is written, pregnancy is not included as a “qualifying life event.” The Healthy MOM Act would add pregnancy to the list of “qualifying life events.”

Tester noted that creating a special enrollment period for pregnant women will prevent costly out-of-pocket expenses which is particularly important when starting or growing a family.

Open enrollment for the health insurance Marketplace is open to everyone from November 1 to January 31. But women who become pregnant outside of the open enrollment season will be forced to remain uninsured or keep their current insurance until the next open enrollment period, unless Tester’s Healthy MOM Act is passed.

According to the U.S. Health Resources and Service Administration, more than one million babies are born to mothers who did not receive adequate prenatal care each year. Across the country, maternal mortality rates are three to four times higher for mothers who did not receive prenatal care compared with mothers who do.

Last month Tester’s bipartisan PACE Act was unanimously passed by Congress and signed into law to give states greater power to oversee the small group health insurance markets.

Tester’s Healthy MOM Act is available HERE.