Texas is one of the last states to offer new moms coverage
By Maggie Q. Thompson, 5:42PM, Wed. Jan. 17, 2024
Low-income Texas moms will now qualify for Medicaid 12 months after the birth of a child (Photo by Getty Images)
It’s been a little more than four months since the Texas legislature passed a law aiming to expand Medicaid access to moms 12 months postpartum and now, with the feds approving the state’s request to do so, the implementation process can begin. Low-income moms should qualify for Medicaid March 1.
Texas is one of the last states to adopt Medicaid coverage for moms 12 months postpartum, a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) spokesperson told the Chronicle last week. CMS approved the state’s plan for expansion today, and it’s a “game changer,” said State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, who chairs the Texas Women’s Health Caucus.
“We’ve been working on this for years. It’s been the number one recommendation of the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee,” Howard told the Chronicle. “These are preventable deaths we’ll be able to address with access to care, especially in a post-Roe world where we’re going to have more pregnancies.”
State Rep. Toni Rose, D-Dallas, authored House Bill 12, which passed with broad bipartisan support last year. “The deck is stacked against new mothers and women that are expecting, and I’m proud to have authored a bill that expands postpartum care for low-income new moms in Texas,” Rose said in a statement. “While we celebrate this win for new moms – the work does not end here in our effort to expand Medicaid across Texas.”
As for the work left to do, Howard told the Chronicle that top priorities for reducing Texas’ unusually high maternal mortality rate include clarifying medical exceptions for abortions and protecting access to contraceptives. “I’ve had a bill for session after session to allow for reimbursement for contraceptives in our CHIP program. We are one of only two states that don’t do that and we have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country, and we know teen pregnancies are more likely to have complications.”
For new moms applying for Medicaid coverage, the process may not be smooth. Medicaid applications and renewals are still problematic in Texas. Since July, a group of anonymous whistleblowers have sent a series of letters to Gov. Greg Abbott detailing dysfunction at Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), which processes Medicaid applications and renewals. Last month, the Texas Women’s Health Caucus sent a letter to HHSC demanding action on “the crisis in Texas’ eligibility system.”
An HHSC spokesperson told the Chronicle last week that they are “working to implement 12-month postpartum coverage effective March 1.”
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