OVERNIGHT: Texas Senate passes bill to help moms with postpartum depression

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — After a marathon day debating legislation with the end of session deadlines looming, the Texas Senate approved a measure early Thursday morning to increase Medicaid coverage for new mothers.

The committee substitute to House Bill 133 would raise Medicaid coverage for new Texas moms to six months after the birth of her baby. Currently, two months are covered.

The bill passed out of the Senate in a 30-1 vote.

“We will become one of the first states in the nation to extend it beyond two months,” State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, who chairs the chamber’s Health and Human Services Committee, said during the bill layout after 3:00 a.m. Thursday. She noted Illinois has 12 months, Georgia has six months and Missouri only allows 12 months for substance abuse and mental health. According to Kolkhorst, four states have pending waivers with the federal government.

“We are one of only two states that have state-funded 12 month postpartum services— us and California,” Kolkhorst said.

The version passed by the House proposed a full year. The bill’s author, State Rep. Toni Rose, D-Dallas, hoped her legislation would be approved with the full year intact, but was optimistic about its movement earlier in the session.

“There are some concerns but we’re working them out,” Rose acknowledged in April, explaining that she had already been working with Senators to compromise at that point.

“Women without comprehensive health care is the number one cause of death amongst women after pregnancy,” Rose said last month. “This legislation will save lives.”

During the pandemic, federal waivers allowed new moms to remain on Medicaid longer than two months. HB 133 would make permanent some of the changes granted by the waivers.

HB 133 was part of a legislative healthcare package supported by Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont.

Supporters of HB 133 believe it would help cover finances for critical care. Opponents of the bill expressed concerns about the cost to fund the extended coverage.

The legislation returns to the House for approval before it can advance to the Governor’s desk.

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