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Pressure Builds for Secretary Burwell to Expand Access to Maternity Coverage Year-Round

54 U.S. Representatives, More Than 50,000 People and 32 Advocacy Groups Call on HHS to Create a Special Enrollment Period for Pregnancy

[WASHINGTON] — More than 50,000 people and 32 state and national health advocates called on the US Department of Health & Human Services to issue immediate guidance to classify pregnancy as a qualifying life event for special enrollment.

Today’s activities come on the heels of more than 37 Senators and 54 House members writing to Secretary Burwell, asking that the Department do more to help pregnant women access health care coverage year-round.

“The Department of Health & Human Services has demonstrated a willingness to break from insurance industry practices that did not advance public health,” said Christina Postolowski, Health Policy Manager at Young Invincibles. “We hope that it will hear the pleas of a growing chorus calling on them to exercise the same leadership.”

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), who led the House letter, stressed the urgency of this request from congressional colleagues.

“The number of health advocates, members of Congress, and average Americans calling for this change highlights the importance of this issue and should inspire special urgency for the Department of Health and Human Services,” said Rep. Watson Coleman (NJ-12). “Making sure pregnant women can get the care they need will improve health outcomes for millions of mothers and their babies­, and I hope HHS will take steps to implement this change as quickly as possible.”

Groups participating in the joint petition effort include Daily Kos, RH Reality Check and UltraViolet and Young Invincibles. The letter by health advocates to Secretary Burwell includes support from dozens of other groups, such as Families USA, Moms Rising, National Health Law Program (NHeLP) and Planned Parenthood.

Last month, Young Invincibles released a report, called Without Maternity Coverage, highlighting the devastating financial and health consequences of being unable to access maternity coverage for pregnant women. When asked about the issue after the release of the report, Secretary Burwell said that the Department has based what it classifies as a qualifying life event for special enrollment by following insurance industries guidelines for enrollment opportunities.

Please be in touch if you would like a copy of the House letter, or to speak with one of our policy experts.