Last week, the Texas Senate approved legislation extending Medicaid coverage for new moms to a year after birth. However, a last-minute amendment clarifying that the coverage doesn’t include abortion has led some to worry that the bill won’t pass the House.
HB 12 increases Medicaid coverage by six months after childbirth. “Women need comprehensive health care after the delivery of a baby,” Democrat Toni Rose, who sponsored the bill, said during a hearing in March. The state Senate, led by Republicans, agreed, giving the bill bipartisan approval.
However, Sen. Lois Kolkhorst added an amendment clarifying that only childbirth or natural loss is eligible for the coverage. The move was criticized by Rose. “It defeats the work that we’ve done,” she said. “We just cannot go backwards.”
Yet Kolkhorst said her intention was not to go backward, but to help the bill pass the Senate. “I’ve been on the phone all day,” she said. “My goal is to get this bill over the goal line and allay some of the … concerns of members on this floor… I think that this is a compromise that is best.”
According to Yahoo!, approximately half of all births are covered by Medicaid. Originally, mothers received health care coverage for two months after giving birth; in 2021, that was expanded to six months. Tabitha Israel, a doula and student midwife in Tarrant County, told Yahoo! that more support for new moms is sorely needed. “You get more recovery and more therapy with a knee surgery than you do with a cesarean,” she said.
The bill will now return to the House. Governor Greg Abbott has already signaled that he supports the legislation, and will sign it into law. On both sides of the political aisle, it appears that the legislation is being applauded as pro-life.
Sen. José Menéndez said, “If we truly have a commitment to life, first and foremost, is the mother’s life and so that the mother can be healthy and take care of the children she has.”