Statement: Extend mothers’ health coverage to a year

A coalition of 162 groups — Texas 2036 is a supporting organization — released the following statement in support of legislative action to extend Medicaid coverage for mothers for a full year after pregnancy:

“Childbirth, one of life’s greatest joys, can turn into tragedy when medical issues or pregnancy complications arise. Maternal deaths are the most tragic outcome, but they are the tip of the iceberg. Many more Texas moms face medical issues and complications in the year following pregnancy — such as postpartum depression, cardiac arrest, infection, and extreme blood loss or hemorrhage. These issues often lead to extra hospital stays, long-term health problems for mother and baby, and higher costs to Medicaid and the state.

“Texas women with low incomes can get Medicaid coverage while they are pregnant, but after March 2023 the state will resume cutting off coverage 60 days after pregnancy, leaving new moms uninsured at a pivotal time for their health and their baby’s healthy development. This is especially worrisome because over one-fourth of maternal deaths in Texas occur between 43 days and one year after pregnancy. Too often, women must rely on hospital emergency rooms for care that could have been prevented — or treated earlier and more cost-efficiently — by a doctor or clinic. The 2022 Texas Maternal Mortality & Morbidity Review Committee (MMMRC) report found that nearly all– 90%– of maternal deaths could have been prevented.

HB 12 would allow mothers to keep Medicaid insurance for one year after pregnancy instead of just two months.

“Options are limited for low-income, uninsured moms. This bill allows new moms to access needed medications, get consistent health care, and continue seeing their doctor, specialist, or other professional without disruption. HB 12 would offer comprehensive care for new moms, leverage Texas’ existing provider network, and allow the state to draw down federal funds. In contrast to last session, 12-month postpartum coverage has now been implemented by most states, including other Southern states such as Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina.

“Extending coverage to 12 months postpartum is recommended by Governor Abbott in his recent budget proposal, included in the Texas Republican Party platform, and is the top recommendation of the Texas Maternal Mortality & Morbidity Review Committee.”