Beginning March 1, low-income Texas mothers can receive Medicaid coverage for one year after childbirth. The federal government approved Texas’ extension Jan. 17.

Medicaid covered nearly half of Texas births in 2022, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Yet low-income women are currently eligible for two months of postpartum coverage.

The details

New and existing enrollees will be eligible for the extension. Women whose Medicaid coverage expired before March 1 will be automatically re-enrolled and receive coverage for 12 months after their pregnancy ended, according to Gov. Greg Abbott's office.

Over 137,000 new parents will benefit from the extension, according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Beyond prenatal care, Medicaid covers checkups and other services for mothers and their children.

“This is a fantastic step forward to support healthy moms and babies,” said Diana Forester, the director of health policy at Texans Care for Children, in a statement.

How we got here

Texas is the 43rd state to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months. The change is a top recommendation of the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee, which documented rising rates of maternal deaths and severe complications in its 2022 report.

Maternal health advocates have pushed for the extension for years, but proposals stalled as lawmakers argued over coverage for women who had abortions.

In 2021, lawmakers agreed to a six-month extension, but the federal government did not approve it.

Rep. Toni Rose, D-Dallas, led a bipartisan effort to expand coverage for low-income women during the 2023 legislative session. The legislation, known as House Bill 12, includes a “legislative purpose” section that says only “mothers whose pregnancies end in the delivery of the child or end in the natural loss of the child” are eligible for the extension.

This section, however, does not hold legal weight.

Quotes of note

“The deck is stacked against new mothers and women that are expecting,” Rose said in a statement. “The simple fact of the matter is that only providing new mothers with postpartum care for two months is unacceptable.”

Texas Democrats said they would fight to expand Medicaid coverage for more Texans.

“We are so grateful to Rep. Toni Rose, Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, the staff at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission ... and everyone else who worked hard to make this happen,” Forester said. “Disagreements between elected officials get a lot of attention, but this is an example of how our state legislators really can come together to improve access to health care for Texas families.”

Texans who are eligible for Medicaid coverage can access their plan and update their information at