ATLANTA – The Georgia Board of Community Health voted Thursday to seek federal approval of a plan to extend Medicaid coverage to new mothers for up to one year after their babies are born.

The American Rescue Plan Act President Joe Biden signed into law in March of last year gave states the option to extend Medicaid to new mothers for up to a year.

The General Assembly passed a bill sponsored by state Sen. Dean Burke, R-Bainbridge, and backed by Gov. Brian Kemp on the final day of this year’s legislative session accomplishing the change.

The legislation, approved unanimously in the Senate and overwhelmingly in the Georgia House of Representatives, would replace the current policy, which provides Medicaid coverage for up to six months postpartum, with a full year of coverage.

Extending Medicaid to new mothers for an additional six months will cost about $85 million during the coming fiscal year, Lynnette Rhodes, executive director of medical assistance plans for the state Department of Community Health, told board members Thursday. The state will put up $27.4 million, while the rest will be covered by the federal government, she said.

The extended coverage is due to take effect Oct. 31, subject to the approval of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.