Maryland is expanding medical care for low income women.
Beginning Jan. 1, women whose income is about 200 percent of the federal poverty scale, or about $22,000 a year for a single woman, can receive free family planning services, including breast and reproductive cancer screenings, pelvic exams, sexually transmitted disease testing, pregnancy counseling, and contraception.
A new law will make about 35,000 women eligible for the services who had not been eligible until after they were pregnant or had a child, said the bill’s chief sponsor, Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery).
Mizeur said the expansion of health services will help reverse Maryland’s high rates of infant mortality and low birth weight and help reduce the number of abortions. The measure could save the state $20 million to $40 million in savings by helping women avoid unintended pregnancies and giving birth to low-birth weight babies, she said. The program will cost about $2.3 million annually, Mizeur said.
The areas where the need is greatest are Prince George’s County, Baltimore and the Eastern Shore. Mizeur teamed up with Del. Michael D. Smigel, an Eastern Shore Republican, to secure passage of the law.
The Medical Assistance Hotline for questions about eligibility is 855.692.4993 or for questions about benefits 800.456.8900 or the state’s Medicaid Web site.