Mother’s Day began nationwide in the U.S. 110 years ago when President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation on May 9, 1914, that officially established the first national holiday to celebrate America’s mothers. Anna Jarvis, one of Mother’s Day most important instigators, eventually turned against the holiday she helped to create, disgusted by the way it became overly commercialized. She even campaigned to have it removed from the calendar.

A century and a decade later, the holiday persists in all of its commercial glory. But on the more substantial aspects of honoring motherhood, particularly in its first year and particularly for people of color, the United States hasn’t had as much to celebrate. The U.S. has ranked low among developed nations for maternal, prenatal, and post-partum healthcare.

In 2021, President Joseph Biden signed into law the massive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act. It included a time-limited provision that didn’t get much attention at the time that gave states a new option to extend Medicaid postpartum coverage from 60 days to 12 months.

In June 2022, President Joseph Biden released his administration’s Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis which included calling on Congress “to improve and expand coverage by closing the Medicaid coverage gap and requiring continuous Medicaid coverage for 12 months postpartum…” The effort succeeded and the option was made permanent by the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2023.

Forty-six states and the District of Columbia have implemented the option to expand that Medicaid coverage for the full year post-partum and another is in the planning stage of implementation.  Medicaid covers 42% of all births in the nation, meaning this will change the lives of millions of people.

It’s tempting to call it a Mother’s Day gift, and one much better than flowers and chocolates. But it’s simply healthcare for the most vulnerable, affording everyone a chance to thrive.  It’s what we should do and who we should be.

Happy Mother’s Day.