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Kentucky House’s priority ‘momnibus’ legislation clears first big vote

Republican Rep. Kim Moser gestures to a broad coalition of women in the legislature who are in support of her legislation to support pregnant women in Kentucky.
Sylvia Goodman
Republican Rep. Kim Moser gestures to a broad coalition of women in the legislature who are in support of her legislation to support pregnant women in Kentucky.

A bipartisan plan to expand health care access and education for new mothers cleared a Kentucky House committee Thursday.

House Bill 10, dubbed the “momnibus” bill, appears to have broad support in the Republican-run Kentucky Legislature this year, and it easily won its first legislative vote Thursday afternoon.

Here’s one significant state policy change the bill proposes: It would ensure pregnancy is designated a “qualifying life event” under various health insurance plans. That gives patients the option to enroll in coverage if they become pregnant.

“We discovered that pregnancy was not considered a qualifying life event for some insurance, and we just want to close that gap and make sure that moms can get the prenatal care that they need,” said the bill’s lead sponsor, Republican Rep. Kim Moser of Taylor Mill.

The state House Health Services Committee agreed Thursday afternoon to advance HB 10, with no lawmakers voting against it. Now the proposal is eligible for a vote by the full House. If approved, it would move to the Senate.

Both legislative chambers are likely to approve the bill.

Moser said the proposal developed from discussions by an informal working group of women in the Legislature who are concerned about Kentucky’s maternal mortality rates and considered how they could help address that problem.

“But it was a bipartisan, bicameral look at what’s wrong with our maternal health in Kentucky, why are our numbers so high and what can we do about it,” she told reporters Thursday. “So this really addresses the priorities that we thought we could tackle.”

HB 10 would require Kentucky’s Health Access Nurturing Development Services, or HANDS, program to let participants do telehealth visits and to give parents information on lactation and on sleep safety for babies.

Among that and other provisions, the bill also would formally establish the Kentucky Lifeline for Moms, which would run a telephone hotline that health care providers can contact if they have a patient who would benefit from receiving mental health services.

That initiative is designed to assist mothers with a mental illness or intellectual disability, and Moser said it already has secured initial grant funding.

Stu Johnson contributed to this story.

LPM's state government and politics reporting is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Morgan is LPM's health & environment reporter. Email Morgan at mwatkins@lpm.org.

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