The Texas Democratic Legislature is preparing legislation for the 2023 session targeting maternal health equity-state of reform

The Texas Legislature will consider several bills addressing maternal health equity in its next session.

Rep. Shawn Thierry (D-Houston), an outspoken black maternal health advocate, authored 3 of these bills, House Bills 465, 460and 472.

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HB 472 would establish the Office of Health Equity (OHE) within the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to develop and implement initiatives that reduce health disparities.

The bill empowers the OHE, as the primary government agency, to collaborate with other government agencies and stakeholders in the area of ​​health equity through culturally appealing actions, such as: B. the improvement of language services in health care, the promotion of cultural diversity in health care administration and the advocacy of those affected.

HB465 proposes establishing a nationwide pilot medical assistance program for doula services by fall 2024. The latest attempt to pass a statewide Medicaid pilot program for doula services, HB2685In 2021 he died in committee.

Giving Austin Labor Support is the only organization in Texas that offers Medicaid-reimbursable doula services shown to reduce mortality and improve healthier outcomes for infants.

HB 460 would create an additional community advocate position on the Texas Maternal Mortality Review Committee (TMMRC), which reviews the state’s maternal mortality data and provides legislators with the Department of State Health Services with a biennial report and policy recommendations.

Nakeenya Wilson, who serves in the government service Maternal Health Justice Cooperativeand is also currently the only community representative on the TMMRC, spoke to State of Reform about the importance of her role as a black mother who was having complications of her own at the time of the birth.

“The biggest benefit of my contributions to the committee is that I can look at it from a non-medical perspective and have had both experiences as someone who was close [mortality] and had comorbidities,” Wilson said. “I represent several marginalized identities. I add valuable insight and candor that might otherwise not be there.”

These findings include determinations of pregnancy relevance and contraceptiveness, contributions to the results, and the formulation of community-based recommendations. Wilson hopes the addition of another voice from the community will improve the committee’s focus on justice.

“There are rural areas and areas along our borders that could be represented in space,” Wilson said. “As we look at the next round of reports, we will see impacts from COVID on Hispanic women. There are some disadvantages, especially in the state of Texas for women whose native language is Spanish and [for whom] English is not their first language as it contributes to the quality of care they receive.

Someone who can represent one of these particular perspectives will be great. And I hope to work with them as I would any other person to put those most affected front and center and ensure the voice of the community is at the table.”

democrats Sen. Nathan Johnson and Rep. Julie Johnson (representing both Dallas-area districts) have each tabled a bill in their respective chambers to expand Medicaid, an effort that failed to garner Republican support in previous sessions. Senate Bill 195 and HB652 aim to create a Live Well Texas program that would expand Medicaid eligibility to offer health benefit plans to more people.

Texas remains one of 11 states not to have expanded Medicaid under the ACA, and maintains the highest child and adult uninsured rate in the country. Maternal Health Experts Let’s say one of the most effective ways to tackle maternal deaths would be to expand Medicaid, which has been endorsed by both the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Hospital Association.

Senators Johnson, Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) and Royce West (D-Dallas) submitted SB 73, 124and 134while Reps. Evelina Ortega (D-El Paso) and Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) have filed HBS 56 and 487respectively.

All 5 pre-submitted bills aim to extend postpartum Medicaid eligibility for mothers from the current 6 months to at least 12 months.

youngest CDC data show that 53% of maternal deaths occurred between 7 and 365 days after the woman was discharged from the hospital. Other last report of the Elevance Health Public Policy Institute (EHPPI) highlights Medicaid as a major source of health care for pregnant women, with health insurance paying for nearly half of all births in the United States.