Legislature Should Finish the Job and Pass 12-Month Health Coverage for New Moms

Testimony to the House Appropriations Committee

Last session, with leadership from Speaker Phelan, Chair Frank, Rep. Rose and others, the Texas House passed HB 133 to provide 12 months of health coverage for new moms after childbirth, as recommended by the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee and other experts.

The Senate reduced the bill to six months, and the Governor signed the bill. The bill has not been implemented because it requires a Medicaid waiver to obtain federal funds, always a slower and uncertain option. As a result, when Texas restarts Medicaid disenrollments at the end of the Public Health Emergency, Texas moms will once again be removed from health coverage when their baby turns two months old. Many experts expect that to start on February 1, 2023.

We urge the Legislature to finish the job and pass the 12-month maternal coverage option now available to states through a simple Medicaid State Plan Amendment (SPA). Since the federal government made this option easier than the waiver option that Texas pursued, two thirds of all states — including other southern states like Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina — have either passed or implemented this option.

We urge budget-writers to include any necessary funding for 12-month postpartum coverage in the base budget for the next biennium.