After months of delays (conveniently timed after the November election), Texas has finally published a required report about maternal mortality. The results point to a dispiriting picture for those who give birth in Texas, especially for black women.
Last week, the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee (MMMRC) and Department of State Health Services (DSHS) submitted their 2022 Report. This report was originally due in September.
The findings from the past two years show that ninety percent of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable. The number one cause of pregnancy-related death was obstetric hemorrhage. And the risks for Black women were significant.
According to the report, “The final pregnancy-related mortality ratio in 2013 for Non-Hispanic Black women was over twice that for Non-Hispanic White women and over four times higher than Hispanic women.” The cohort the report studied from 2019 continued to show those trends.
The report also included recommendations. The first is perhaps a no-brainer: increasing access to healthcare. Specifically, the report advises the state to “increase access to comprehensive health services during pregnancy, the year after pregnancy, and throughout the preconception and interpregnancy periods to facilitate continuity of care, implement effective care transitions, promote safe birth spacing, and improve lifelong health of women.”
While the Texas House passed a bill last session expanding postpartum healthcare via Medicaid from two months to twelve months, the Texas Senate modified that to just six months. Governor Abbott got into a spat with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who were encouraging all states to adopt the twelve-month framework.
The report also recommended that the state engage with and invest in Black communities when it comes to women’s healthcare. Currently, there are many organizations throughout the state that have devoted several resources on their own to combatting this healthcare crisis.
Many Democratic state lawmakers are hopeful that when the next session starts next month, the chambers can come on board for more comprehensive pregnancy healthcare. State Rep. Shawn Thierry, who endured a pregnancy complication, is working on a set of bills, which she has called a “Momnibus.” Whether or not Republicans will join her and her Democratic colleagues on expanding healthcare, remains to be seen.