TX Maternal Mortality Review Committee Calls for Health Coverage for New Moms

For Immediate Release
Contact: Peter Clark,
pclark@txchildren.org, 512-473-2274

Austin – The Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee (MMMRC) released its biennial report to the Legislature, calling for health coverage for mothers for a full 12 months after childbirth and offering other recommendations. Among the pregnancy-related deaths that the Review Committee reviewed from 2013, 89 percent of the deaths were preventable and 31 percent occurred 43 days to 1 year after the end of pregnancy.


“The Legislature now has an opportunity to keep more moms alive and address other pregnancy challenges, including maternal depression and babies dying or starting life with severe health challenges,” said Adriana Kohler, Policy Director for Texans Care for Children. “We appreciate legislators asking for these recommendations and urge them to follow this smart recommendation to allow new moms to maintain health insurance for a year.”

During the 2019 legislative session, the Texas House passed legislation to provide 12 months of Medicaid coverage to mothers following childbirth, as recommended by the Review Committee. The bill ran out of time in the Texas Senate and did not become law. Texas typically removes mothers from Medicaid health insurance two months after childbirth, often leaving them with no health insurance options. Texas has paused the removal of mothers from Medicaid insurance during the Public Health Emergency declared by the federal government to address COVID-19.

Several lawmakers have already filed bills for the upcoming legislative session to provide 12 months postpartum coverage.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas had the highest uninsured rate in the nation, and many Texans have lost their job-based health insurance during the pandemic. Texans with jobs below the poverty line — such as many grocery store cashiers, child care educators, and others — typically do not have access to affordable health insurance under current state policies. The state’s Healthy Texas Women (HTW) program and the new HTW-Plus provide important but limited health services to Texas women.

The report includes a number of recommendations. The first recommendation from the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee says:

“Increase access to comprehensive health services during pregnancy, the year after pregnancy, and throughout the preconception and interpregnancy periods to facilitate continuity of care, enable effective care transitions, promote safe birth spacing, and improve lifelong health of women….[T]he MMMRC recommends that health care coverage be extended to 12 months postpartum to help identify and properly manage health conditions before they become life-threatening.”

Regarding the causes of pregnancy-related deaths, the report says: 

Cardiovascular/coronary conditions and mental disorders (with or without substance use) were tied for the most frequently observed leading causes of death. Obstetric hemorrhage (OBH), preeclampsia or eclampsia, infection, and embolism were tied for second.

While Texas moms of all backgrounds died of pregnancy-related causes, there were disproportionately more deaths among Black women. The report says:

Among reviewed 2013 cases identified as pregnancy-related, 31 percent of deaths were among Non-Hispanic Black women, 41 percent among Non-Hispanic White women, 26 percent among Hispanic women, and 2 percent among women of other races and ethnicities. In contrast, 11 percent of live births in 2013 were among Non-Hispanic Black women, 34 percent among Non-Hispanic White women, 48 percent among Hispanic women, and 6 percent among women of other races and ethnicities.