The Fed rejected Texas’ request to extend postpartum Medicaid to 6 months

The Fed rejected Texas' request to extend postpartum Medicaid to 6 months

State lawmakers believe the feds could have interpreted that language to exclude pregnant Texas women who had abortions.

Texas Tribune Texas’ request to extend Medicaid coverage for new mothers from two months to six months has been denied by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the agency has not provided any immediate reason for denying the request.

Lawmakers pushing for the extension say they believe the request was rejected because of language that would have excluded pregnant women who have abortions, including medically necessary abortions. The bill’s language, passed in the 2021 legislative session, covers pregnant women who give birth to a baby or have an “involuntary abortion.”

“It’s not a medical term, involuntary abortion,” the representative said. Donna Howard, D. Austin, former nurse and health educator. What I’m concerned about, and I think the concern here, is those people who wanted to end their pregnancy but end up having complications late in the pregnancy and they should be allowed to stay on Medicaid.

Kelly Weldon, spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said CMS had verbally confirmed that Texas’ request could not be approved. HHSC officials have requested written confirmation.

Weldon raised questions about why the plan could not be approved by CMS, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The stalled application process is a “self-inflicted wound,” Howard said. As part of the Saving America Act of 2021, the federal government relaxed the application requirements for states that extended Medicaid for a full year after childbirth.

The Texas House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that would have provided 12 months of coverage, but the Senate amended the law to six months instead. Because of that change, the state was required to go through a more rigorous application process.

Speaker of Parliament Dad PhilanBeaumont, R-Beaumont, blamed President Joe Biden for denying the request.

“This is the latest hypocritical and desperate act by the Biden administration to jeopardize the care and needs of Texas mothers and babies — all in the name of partisan politics,” he said in a statement on Twitter.

Phelan indicated that she plans to try again for a full year of postpartum Medicaid. State representative Tony RoseD. Dallas, who introduced the original bill last session, said he is optimistic it will pass both chambers next year.

“It was already my plan to work on adding the extra six months that we didn’t get in the last legislative session,” Rose said. “But especially in light of today’s news and the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, our mothers’ access to comprehensive health care has never been more important.”

Rose said he will also work to remove any language that may have caused the application to be rejected.

Texas is one of only 12 states that has not expanded Medicaid. As a result, Medicaid in Texas serves more low-income children. Pregnant women in Texas are more likely to be uninsured and less likely to seek early prenatal care than anywhere else in the country, and the state has staggering rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, particularly among black women.

Extending postpartum Medicaid to one year was one of the main recommendations of the state’s Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee. Howard said that now that Texas has banned all abortions except to save the life of the pregnant patient, the issue becomes even more urgent.

“More than half of all births in Texas are stillbirths now,” she said. It means an increase in Medicaid births.”

Currently, because of the continuing federally declared public health emergency, no one is removed from the Medicaid rolls, even after eligibility expires. The state of emergency is set to expire this fall, although the federal government has repeatedly extended it.

“We hope that CMS will work with us to approve before the end of the public health emergency to ensure that women on Texas Medicaid continue to receive postpartum care,” Weldon said in an emailed statement.

This story appeared first Texas Tribune.

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