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AUSTIN, TX – State Representative Toni Rose (D-110) recently commended the 3:00 a.m. passage of House Bill 133, legislation she authored extending Medicaid for new mothers from two months to six months coverage.

Rep. Toni Rose

Calling House Bill 133 a major victory for Texas women and their families, although falling short of the original intent to extend coverage to 12 months, Rep. Rose said, “Texas has taken a key step in protecting women’s health. I can’t imagine anything more devastating than the unexpected death of a new mother after the birth of her child.”

The bill also transitions Healthy Texas Women (HTW) to a managed care model, directs case management from the Department of State Health Services to a Medicaid managed care model, and requires the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to determine the feasibility of automatic managed care enrollment for women who become pregnant while participating in the HTW program.

Childbirth can lead to postpartum depression, medical crisis, and premature death, including suicide. Access to medical resources and counseling would save lives, if available to poor mothers whose safety net currently disappears 60 days after delivery.

The majority of maternal deaths in 2013 were women previously enrolled in the Medicaid program but could not receive the necessary postpartum services at the end of their 60-day extension. In fact, 31% of all pregnancy-related deaths occurred 43 days to 1 year after the end of the pregnancy, with mental disorder as the leading underlying cause.

While all women are impacted, severe maternal morbidity and delivery hospitalizations involving hypertensive disorder disproportionally affects Black mothers in Texas. Although Black women made up only 11% of live births across the state, 31% of all maternal mortality deaths were among Black women.

“I am pleased the Maternal Mortality bill will move forward to the Governor’s desk. I am also thankful for the tremendous efforts made by Senator Kolkhorst, our allies, and longstanding champions of women’s access to healthcare like Senator Judith Zaffirini. Texas women need a full year of coverage after giving birth to remain safe and we haven’t given up the fight,” said Rep. Rose.

New mothers lacking access to comprehensive healthcare and suffering from underlying conditions like diabetes and hypertension risk the emergence of diseases that can lead to death if untreated. The Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee conducted medical studies that show 12 months of comprehensive health coverage is necessary to curtail maternal mortality deaths, 90% of which are preventable.

Elected in 2012, Representative Toni Rose represents District 110, which includes the diverse communities of Oak Cliff, Pleasant Grove, Balch Springs, and Mesquite. Rep. Rose serves as a member of the House Committee on Calendars, Appropriations, and Human Services, as well as Vice Chair of Redistricting and Vice Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Article II, which manages state budget considerations on issues pertaining to the Health and Human Services Commission and its agencies.

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