Early prenatal care plays a critical role in the health of pregnant women and their babies. Access to early prenatal care can lead to better birth outcomes, healthier babies, and reduced health care costs. Presumptive eligibility in Medicaid has become an important strategy for improving access to prenatal care for low-income pregnant women. Presumptive eligibility is an option that states can use to allow authorized providers to begin treating pregnant women when they first seek prenatal care rather than several weeks later after a final determination has been made regarding their Medicaid eligibility.
This state health policy monitor discusses the role that presumptive eligibility programs have played in state efforts to streamline and simplify their enrollment and eligibility processes for pregnant women in both Medicaid and SCHIP. Currently, twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have adopted presumptive eligibility to grant Medicaid coverage to pregnant women. Seven states currently have other expedited processes for enrolling pregnant women into coverage, while some states have no such programs.
Although certain aspects of presumptive eligibility policies differ from state to state, these programs have proved to be an effective tool for enrolling pregnant women into early prenatal care.
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