Texas House Approves Extension of Medicaid Coverage for New Moms to 1 Year After Childbirth


AUSTIN (Nexstar) – A bill to expand Medicaid coverage for new moms in Texas passed a major hurdle on Wednesday when it received initial approval from Texas House.

House Bill 133, written by State Representative Toni Rose, D-Dallas, would expand Medicaid coverage for new mothers from two months to a full year after birth. The change, which Rose has championed for several years, follows a recommendation from the state’s Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Commission.

“Women without comprehensive health care are the number one killer of women after pregnancy,” Rose said. “This legislation will save lives.

HB 133, which enjoys bipartisan support and was passed Wednesday 116-29, is part of a legislative package of a dozen health bills backed by President Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, nicknamed Healthy Families, Healthy Texas. Four of them got the initial green light on Wednesday.

“Today, Texas House has made great strides in improving health outcomes for the citizens of Lone Star State with the passage of House Bills 4.18, 133 and 290,” a Phelan said in a statement. “This transformative legislation will expand the availability of health care services to all Texans, create savings in prescription drug costs, protect maternal health, and reduce the red tape involved in covering our vulnerable children.”

“With this list of laws, I am confident that the citizens of our state will find the care they need, when they need it,” he added. I am proud of the hard work and dedication of my colleagues in the House to ensure that health care in our state remains accessible and affordable for the 29 million Texans. “

According to Medicaid registration data, HB133 is believed to benefit more than 130,000 Texas moms each year.

But it could come at a financial cost.

HB 133 would cost nearly $ 84 million in the 2022-2023 biennium and over $ 175 million in the 2024-25 biennium, according to a budget analysis by the Legislative Budget Council.

More than two dozen Republicans voted no on HB 133. State Representative Justin Holland, R-Heath, was one of them. He cited financial concerns and argued that Texas women could benefit from state resources in other ways.

“HB 133 may not adequately respond to the state’s maternal mortality and morbidity program, and pregnant women in Texas could be better served if time and resources were devoted to other solutions,” said Holland in a statement.

“Over the past few years, Texas has focused considerable attention and resources on the number of Texas women who die due to health problems occurring during pregnancy or the postpartum period, and programs like Healthy Texas Women have already been implemented to combat these problems, ”he continued.

“Providing more services over a longer period of time may not adequately address the problem of maternal mortality and morbidity, the causes of which are not definitively known, and could cost the state time and money. money that could be better spent on tackling other potential factors contributing to this. problem, ”Holland concluded.

But new mother Claudia Nungaray said access to Medicaid was essential for her during and after her pregnancy.

“I applied for Medicaid when I first found out I was pregnant and it was definitely a big help from the start,” Nungaray said.

The first-time mom relied on Medicaid coverage to deal with mental health issues and high blood pressure. Medicaid also helped cover the costs of doctor visits during pregnancy and follow-ups after the birth of her son, Kael, in November.

Typically, Texan mothers lose Medicaid coverage two months after giving birth, but federal COVID waivers prevent these women from having insurance coverage withdrawn during the pandemic. This waiver allowed Nungaray to remain covered and access the care she needs.

“To have the reassurance that Medicaid is there for me, even throughout the first year of my son’s life, I think that’s something any mom can benefit from,” she explained.

HB 133 faces a final House vote on Thursday. If it passes, it will then go to the Senate.

“There are some concerns, but we are addressing them,” Rose acknowledged. “The good thing about it this legislative session, we were able to get the bill to the House earlier. So now I can have time to go, you know, talk to senators, like I’ve done before, and so I was able to get support, but I have to keep going. “

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