Texas lawmakers are attempting to extend the pandemic-era coverage that gives health insurance to new moms a year after childbirth. If the order fails, thousands will be out of coverage by spring.
A proposed bill by Dallas Rep. Toni Rose gives low-income moms a year of Medicaid coverage after pregnancy, according to The Dallas Morning News. Medicaid currently covers half the births in Texas.
“Women need comprehensive health care after the delivery of a baby,” Rose said during a hearing.
But the bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. During the last session, the chamber rejected the full year of coverage, instead proposing six months. But during the latest hearing, the bill faced no opposition.
John Seago, with Texas Right to Life, said he supports the bill but requested a change that would prevent Texans who go out of state for an abortion from getting the coverage.
Last summer, lawmakers said the feds pushed back on the six-month proposal because it only applied to Texans who delivered a baby or had an involuntary miscarriage, leaving out anyone who terminated a pregnancy, even in a medical emergency.
During the hearing, two mothers testified that the coverage allowed them to maintain good health through difficult pregnancies. One explained that Medicaid helped treat her high blood pressure and diabetes, after losing her health insurance.
According to The Dallas Morning News, a legislative task force, the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee, recommended the full year of coverage be extended. The panel found that a significant amount of mothers die in the months following childbirth. Most of the causes are preventable, including overdoses, suicides and infections, with Black women dying at a much higher rate than other mothers.
A fiscal note on the bill estimates the extension would cost Texas $117 million in the first full year, then closer to $80 million a year after that, funded by a mix of state and federal dollars.