The Battle Over Expanding Postpartum Care in Texas

by | Aug 9, 2022 | Health Care, News, Reproductive Health

By refusing to expand Medicaid, Texas Republicans keep making life harder for poor Texans. Case in point: what’s going on with postpartum coverage.

Last week, reports emerged that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would be denying an application from Texas to approve postpartum care for those on Medicaid from two months to six months.

The Texas House passed a bill last session extending postpartum healthcare via Medicaid from two months to twelve months. The Texas Senate modified that bill and brought down extended coverage to six months. That created an extra hurdle for the state as it applied for federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Republicans in the state like Governor Greg Abbott blasted that decision from CMS. In a statement he blamed the Biden administration, accusing them of “risk[ing] the lives and health of Texas women and their babies all for the sake of a political agenda.”

A spokesperson for the Health and Human Services Department took to social media to rebuke Abbot’s claim, noting that CMS was still reviewing the waiver. “We encourage all states to extend Medicaid coverage for women after pregnancy,” said the spokesperson.

One small area of relief for Texas is that the Biden administration appears likely to extend a public health emergency for COVID-19. That move would keep expanded access to health coverage like postpartum care.

Of course, Texas could fully adopt a pro-family agenda, which Republicans allege to support, by expanding Medicaid. It is just one of 12 states that has not expanded Medicaid since the Affordable Care Act passed 12 years ago.

Bills to expand Medicaid in the Texas House and Senate both died in the last session. A bill to study the potential impact of expanding Medicaid also died in the House.

Texas leads the nation in the number of uninsured. About one in five Texans lacks health insurance.

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A longtime writer and journalist, Jessica was thrilled to join the Texas Signal where she could utilize her unique perspective on politics and culture. As the Features and Opinion Editor, she is responsible for coordinating editorials and segments from diverse authors. She is also the host of the podcast the Tex Mix, as well as the co-host for the weekly SignalCast. Jessica attended Harvard College, is a onetime fitness blogger, and has now transitioned to recreational runner (for which her joints are thankful).

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