Low-income mothers based in Texas can now get postpartum care for a full year after childbirth.
The bill adds millions of dollars in postpartum support and could help lower maternal mortality rates.
The bill comes as maternal mortality rates in the US jumped to 1,205 women in 2021 from 754 in 2019.
Low-income moms in Texas can now receive postpartum care for a full year after childbirth thanks to a new policy that increases access to medical services and mental health support for nearly 140,000 people in the next two years, policymakers predict.
New mothers in the state were previously eligible for Medicaid for only two months following childbirth. The expansion bill — which was approved in January and will take effect on March 1 — adds millions of dollars in statewide postpartum support and could help lower maternal mortality rates.
The new bill comes as maternal mortality rates in the United States jumped to 1,205 women in 2021 — the most recent year data is available — from 754 in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
More than half of nationwide maternal deaths occur in the year after childbirth, with Texas ranking among the most dangerous states for pregnant people, according to data from the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review. Low-income women and women of color are especially vulnerable.
The program helps to mitigate healthcare burdens for low-income Americans, covering the cost of prenatal vitamins, labor and delivery, treatment for pregnancy complications, newborn checkups, support for perinatal depression, pharmaceutical fees, and more.
Increased access to Medicaid correlates with improved pre-pregnancy health, maternal health, and infant health outcomes, according to reports published in 2020 and 2021 by the KFF, formally known as the Kaiser Family Foundation. Low-income mothers are also significantly more likely to seek the prenatal and postpartum care they need when they have access to the program.
Who qualifies for postpartum healthcare?
Diana Forester, director of health policy at the non-partisan policy organization Texans Care for Children, said the extension is a step to support healthy mothers and babies.
"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 healthcare for Texas families," Forester said in a public statement.
Anyone whose pregnancy ended in the months prior to March 2024 will be eligible to re-enroll in the program.
The extended coverage is expected to cost $85 million by the end of fiscal year 2024, and a total of $405 million by 2028.
The Medicaid expansion proposal was previously denied by the federal government in 2021, citing that Texas' application used medically inaccurate language intended to exclude people who had abortions.
Texas is now one of 43 states that have extended the window for postpartum healthcare coverage under Medicaid.
About half of births in Texas and across the country are financed by Medicaid. The monetary relief Texas mothers will receive depends on their specific income level and number of dependents.
Texas lawmakers across the aisle supported the recent Medicaid expansion. But Senate Republicans advocated to include a "legislative purpose" clause to ensure that individuals who have an elective abortion will not qualify for postpartum funds.
"Out of the state's profound respect for the lives of mothers and unborn children, Medicaid coverage is extended for mothers whose pregnancies end in the delivery of the child or end in the natural loss of the child," the Texas bill reads.
Medicaid does not guarantee abortion coverage in most states. And Texas has seen recent efforts to limit abortion and reproductive health care access, especially following the reversal of Roe v. Wade.
Are you a new mother supported by Medicaid? Have you faced challenges accessing pregnancy and postpartum healthcare? Reach out to email@example.com.
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