By Ashley Lopez
A number of health care leaders and advocates want Texas to include mosquito repellent in pharmacy benefits for people on Medicaid and other government health programs.
It would be a way to help low-income people prevent exposure to Zika, a mosquito-borne illness that is known to cause brain defects in unborn children. But, the program could be hindered by the health care access problems in Texas.
Last week, Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Charles Smith sent a letter to state officials asking the agency to consider paying for mosquito repellent for low-income women of childbearing age who need help paying for health care. Those women enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and family planning programs.
“For a family that is pinching pennies and cutting coupons, you would hate to see them wait a few weeks to buy insect repellent because they are worried about putting food on the table,” says Adriana Kohler with Texans Care for Children.
She says the state should consider approving mosquito repellent as a pharmacy benefit for this population, because they probably wouldn’t be able to buy it on their own. It’s a suggestion that was made by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services early last month. Kohler says it’s a smart way to help people without a disposable income protect themselves if Zika makes its way into the mosquito population here in the U.S.
"This is one of those cases where the state can spend a little money upfront to save a lot of money down the road and make a huge difference for Texas kids and families," Kohler said