Texas Senate panel cuts plan to provide Medicaid coverage to new moms from 1 year to 6 months

Texas Politics

Texas Medicaid patient Claudia Nungaray gave birth to her son Kael in Nov. 2020. The Texas House gave initial approval on House Bill 133 on April 14, 2021. The bill would permanently allow Texas moms to remain on Medicaid for one year after birth. (Background: Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport, Insert: Claudia Nungaray)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A proposal approved by the Texas House to extend Medicaid coverage for new mothers from two months to 1 year could be cut in half by the Texas Senate.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved a substitute for House Bill 133 on Thursday that would extend the state’s current coverage from two to six months. The House plan, championed by state Rep. Toni Rose, a Dallas Democrat, would have extended benefits to 12 months.

The legislation was proposed after a recommendation from the state’s Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Commission.

“Women without comprehensive health care is the number one cause of death amongst women after pregnancy,” Rose said last month. “This legislation will save lives.”

State Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), questioned the length of coverage on the Senate floor Wednesday.

“What I’m wondering is if, if the mortality is clustered, say, in the first four months, why did we choose? Why are we choosing to cover them for 12?” Sen. Campbell asked.

HB 133 passed 116-29 in the House in April. The bill is part of a legislative package of about a dozen healthcare bills backed by Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, dubbed Healthy Families, Healthy Texas.

Last week a bill that would have required Texas to update data on maternal deaths and near-deaths in the state didn’t make the deadline to be heard in the House. Rep. Shawn Thierry, D-Houston, told KXAN she was “extremely disappointed” and is left asking “Do Texas moms matter?” Her concerns and push to get more information about Texas moms was first highlighted in KXAN’s 2019 “Mother’s Erased” investigation that uncovered issues with how the state tracks deaths and near-deaths.

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