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Texas lawmakers agree to extend Medicaid for new mothers but clash over length of extension

Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 7:24 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Early Thursday morning, the Texas Senate advanced a bill that would allow Texas mothers to continue receiving coverage through Medicaid for six months after giving birth.

Currently, new mothers only receive coverage for two months after giving birth.

“Often mental health challenges like postpartum depression come up weeks and months after child birth,” Adriana Kohler, the policy director at Texans Care for Children, told KWTX.

Donna Kreuzer lost her only child Kristy to postpartum depression in 2010.

That was six months after Kristy gave birth.

“I shutter to think what would happen to a mom that had no resources available after 60 days postpartum if she were to incur something as serious as severe postpartum depression or hemorrhaging or diabetes,” Kreuzer told KWTX.

Kreuzer said she has been advocating for extended Medicaid coverage for moms for the past three legislative sessions.

The House had previously advanced a proposal this session with bipartisan support that would have extended coverage for a year after birth.

That one-year extension was based on a recommendation made by the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee in a September report.

“We agree with the state Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee that Texas should provide a full 12 months of comprehensive healthcare for moms, but the Senate’s 4-month extension would certainly be an improvement over the status quo,” Kohler said.

Kreuzer said she was “grateful” that there would be an extension in coverage but referred to the bill as “baby steps.”

Currently, there is a separate Texas program called Healthy Texas Women that provides one year of coverage for certain mood disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other conditions.

However, Kreuzer and Kohler said the program does not offer the same set of comprehensive options that Medicaid does.

One estimate shows that nearly half of Texas babies are born to mothers who rely on Medicaid coverage.

State lawmakers are expected to meet behind closed doors in the few remaining days of the legislative session to settle on the length of the extension.

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