In a significant move aimed at supporting maternal health, low-income mothers in Texas will now have access to Medicaid coverage for one year after childbirth. The federal government approved Texas’ extension request on January 17, marking a positive step towards addressing maternal health concerns in the state.
While Medicaid covered nearly half of Texas births in 2022, the previous postpartum coverage for low-income women was limited to two months. Starting March 1, both new and existing enrollees will be eligible for the extended coverage, providing crucial support to mothers during the first year after giving birth.
Governor Greg Abbott’s office outlined the details of the extension, highlighting that women whose Medicaid coverage expired before March 1 would be automatically re-enrolled. This ensures coverage for 12 months after the conclusion of their pregnancy. The extension is expected to benefit over 137,000 new parents, as reported by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
In addition to prenatal care, Medicaid covers checkups and various services for both mothers and their children. Diana Forester, the director of health policy at Texans Care for Children, expressed her enthusiasm, stating, “This is a fantastic step forward to support healthy moms and babies.”
Texas becomes the 43rd state to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months. The decision follows a top recommendation from the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee, which identified rising rates of maternal deaths and severe complications in its 2022 report.
Maternal health advocates have long championed this extension, facing obstacles and debates over coverage for women who had abortions. The legislative journey involved a bipartisan effort led by Rep. Toni Rose, D-Dallas, during the 2023 legislative session. House Bill 12, the result of this effort, emphasizes eligibility for the extension for “mothers whose pregnancies end in the delivery of the child or end in the natural loss of the child.”
However, it’s crucial to note that this section does not hold legal weight, highlighting the complexities surrounding the legislative process.
Rep. Toni Rose emphasized the importance of the extension, stating, “The simple fact of the matter is that only providing new mothers with postpartum care for two months is unacceptable.” Texas Democrats have pledged to continue fighting for further expansions of Medicaid coverage to benefit more Texans.
Acknowledging the collaborative efforts of elected officials and healthcare organizations, Diana Forester expressed gratitude, saying, “Disagreements between elected officials get a lot of attention, but this is an example of how our state legislators really can come together to improve access to health care for Texas families.”
Texans eligible for Medicaid coverage can access their plans and update information at www.yourtexasbenefits.com.