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Arizona could extend AHCCCS to cover postpartum women up to a year after childbirth

Many women struggle with mental health leading up to and after the birth of a child. It can be especially difficult for women in poverty. But the state could spend more money to extend postpartum care for those on Medicaid.

Michelle Lacy is the executive director for Women’s health Innovations of Arizona. "So perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, mental health struggles, occur anytime in pregnancy and up to the first year postpartum," Lacy said. 

And sometimes, she says, women don’t recognize that they’re struggling even months after a baby is born.

"We also know that about 50% of women and poverty experienced mood struggles after the birth of a child, and again it's up to that year or more if it goes untreated," she said. 

Which means maternal mental health care is critical. 

"We're also trying to figure out how to feed this child while we are being sleep deprived and isolated, alone," she explained. "And oftentimes what ends up happening is we have this what we call emotional earthquake and all of our stuff comes up to the surface."

The state Legislature is now considering extending postpartum coverage for those on AHCCCS, the state’s Medicaid program, up to one year.

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.