Two cheers for the North Dakota Legislature for modestly expanding Medicaid eligibility for low-income pregnant women. Access to health care during pregnancy improves the health of both mother and child. Health care decreases the likelihood of low birth weight and infant death. About 455 women in North Dakota will be helped by this change. Only two cheers, though, because it is only a small improvement. North Dakota has the eighth lowest level of support for Medicaid coverage for pregnant women, and this change will move us past just two more, still near the bottom of the list.
Amazingly, some senators opposed even this minimal expansion. For example, Sen. David Clemens of West Fargo said this step could be “an incentive…not to go out and seek work in the job force.” Supporting the medical care of our mothers and their unborn children is not government handout, it is a sound strategy to improve the health of the next generation of North Dakotans.