HB 744 directs the Health and Human Services Commission to allow a woman on Pregnant Women’s Medicaid to receive Medicaid coverage for 12 months postpartum. By improving the continuity of care for postpartum women, this bill will help reduce instances of maternal death in Texas and improve health outcomes for moms and babies.

Investing in women’s healthcare today is crucial given the Texas maternal health landscape. Maternal death and pregnancy related complications remain a serious concern. In the past two years, researchers discovered alarming increases in Texas’ maternal mortality rates. The Department of State Health Services conducted further research and found some inaccuracies to the data; however, after an enhanced assessment, they noted there was still an increase in maternal mortality numbers.

Moreover, the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force found that the majority of maternal deaths occurred more than 60-days postpartum and that many of them were preventable. Systemic contributing factors that were identified included a lack of continuity of care due to the inability to secure outpatient postpartum care – and the inability to access birth control post-delivery. Today, Pregnant Women’s Medicaid only provides postpartum coverage for up to 60 days. For many women, once they lose Medicaid coverage, there is no other option for accessing comprehensive healthcare.

This bill will improve health outcomes for moms and babies. Access to postpartum care allows women to plan with her doctor, be advised on optimal birth spacing and counseled on contraception options. When women are able to plan and space their pregnancies, mothers experience healthier outcomes and babies have less risk of prematurity and low birth weight. Extending the length of postpartum coverage for women on Medicaid will help them begin a subsequent pregnancy healthier, improve outcomes for both mom and baby, and reduce Medicaid costs during delivery and for the infant.