In Texas, Medicaid ends soon after childbirth. Will lawmakers allow more time?

In Texas, many uninsured people can access Medicaid if they get pregnant. But 2 months after giving birth, the coverage ends. Advocates say new moms need a full year, to improve maternal health.

In Texas, Medicaid ends soon after childbirth. Will lawmakers allow more time?

Victoria Ferrell Ortiz gave birth to her daughter in 2017 and was covered under a limited type of Medicaid in Texas. This ended two months after she had given birth. It was difficult to lose insurance so quickly. She supports Texas expanding Medicaid coverage for one year after the birth of a child.

Yfat Yossifor / KERA

Victoria Ferrell Ortiz discovered she was pregnant in the summer 2017. The Dallas resident was just finishing up her AmeriCorps position with a local nonprofit. It offered her a modest living stipend, but no coverage. However, the instructions for applying for Medicaid were not included. Her inbox was flooded with forms. She says, "That was a huge privilege because it took so long and sometimes the representative I would speak with wouldn't know what to do." You are currently trying to navigate the bureaucratic, fragmented system to find healthcare. However, coverage is so limited that many people lose eligibility shortly after giving birth.

About half of all Texas births are covered by Medicaid. The state's maternal morbidity and mortality. Texas is one 11-state state that has decided not to expand Medicaid for its uninsured adult population. This benefit is provided under the Affordable Care Act with 90% of the cost covered by the federal government. The federal insurance marketplace. Texas

Pregnancy Medicaid fills the gap temporarily. The program currently has close to half a million Texans enrolled. All adults with incomes less than 138% of the federal poverty line are eligible for coverage in states that have adopted Medicaid expansion. This means that a family of 3 would have an annual income of $34,307

However, in Texas, a childless adult is not eligible for Medicaid. Individuals who earn less than $2,243 per month are eligible for pregnancy-related Medicaid in Texas. Ferrell Ortiz says that the Dallas hospitals and clinics that accept Medicaid near her felt uncomfortable, uninviting, and a place that was not meant for her. She says, "I went to Lovers Lane Birth Center Richardson." Ferrell Ortiz was happy to have found a supportive and welcoming birth team. Two months after she gave birth, her Medicaid coverage was cut. Governor. Some legislators believed that the application was rejected because of language that could be used to exclude pregnant women who are having abortions, even if they were medically necessary.

The committee is responsible for preparing statewide data reports about maternal deaths and interventions. Kari White, an associate professor at University of Texas at Austin, said that Ferrell Ortiz's bureaucratic difficulties were common for pregnant Texans who receive Medicaid.

White, who is also the lead investigator for the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, (TxPEP), says that Texas's maternal health care and Pregnancy Medicaid coverage are "a big patchwork with some large missing holes in it."

TxPEP examines the diverse effects that state policies have on people's reproductive health. Nearly 1,500 pregnant Texans were surveyed about their public insurance. White states that people are forced to either wait for their condition to get worse or to forgo treatment. Or they may have to spend out of pocket. From the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee. According to the report, at least 52 deaths occurred in Texas due to pregnancy during 2019. According to the MMMRC report, women who are pregnant die more often than their white counterparts. This statistic has been in Texas for almost ten years and shows little change.

According to, Medicaid coverage for pregnant women is a "golden opportunity" to receive care.

She says, "It's the opportunity to have access to health care to address issues that may have been building over time, those sorts of things that if left unaddressed could become something that would require surgery or more intensive treatment later on." It just seems like everyone should have access to it when they need it.

Forester, Texas: "We are behind," Forester said. She says, "I believe there are still going to be some little legislative issues or landmines we have to navigate." Ferrell Ortiz is celebrating the 5th birthday of his daughter. Amelie is bright, artistic, and vocal about her beliefs. Ortiz reflects on her pregnancy and recalls how difficult it was. But, Ortiz also remembers the many lessons she gained about herself.

She says that giving birth was the most difficult experience her body has ever had. She says, "If I could talk to members of the legislature about expanding Medicaid coverage, I would do so." It's a great investment in people who will raise our future, and it is totally worth it.