(Story updated at 5:20 p.m. ET.)
Health advocates are pushing the Obama administration to address widespread confusion about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act affects coverage options for pregnant women.
The Treasury Department said in a rule issued in January that Medicaid coverage that pays only for services related to pregnancies won't satisfy the law's “minimum essential coverage” requirement. However, the IRS said it will not assess penalties for women enrolled in those limited plans for 2014, because it's possible they don't know the coverage does not meet the threshold. The agency hinted that this leniency many not continue in 2015.
Without formal guidance, “there is a great deal of confusion and misinformation among state policymakers and advocates regarding the impact a woman's pregnancy status has on her eligibility for Medicaid and/or premium tax credits,” argues a joint letter co-signed by the March of Dimes, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and others (PDF). The letter was sent March 5 to senior officials at the CMS and the Treasury Department.
The Affordable Care Act allows states to retain their current limited Medicaid benefits for pregnant women, even if they extend comprehensive Medicaid benefits to other low-income adults.