Last week, Governor Abbott approved a law to extend Medicaid coverage from two to 12 months postpartum in Texas. This is a huge win for pregnant Texans, more of whom can now receive necessary healthcare in the months after giving birth. Texas joins 43 other states that have implemented extended postpartum Medicaid coverage.
Postpartum coverage is crucial because it provides access to care for mothers who would otherwise fall through the cracks. The months after giving birth are a vulnerable time: 53% of pregnancy-related deaths happen between a week and a year after giving birth, and around one in three deaths happen after 6 weeks. Federally, Medicaid only needs to cover moms for 60 days after birth, leaving new parents without access to quality healthcare when they need it the most.
Continuous, frequent interaction with a patient’s care team can help alleviate or prevent potentially fatal postpartum complications. Mental health conditions are the leading cause of pregnancy related deaths. This includes death by suicide and overdose related to substance use disorders. And postpartum depression is far more common than you might think: it’s the most common pregnancy complication, affecting roughly 1 in 7 pregnancies.
The first two months following birth are a whirlwind for moms, who have to juggle the baby, sometimes multiple kids, the house, and in some cases, work. If a new mom is struggling with her mental health during this time, she may not know whether her feelings of sadness, fatigue, and hopelessness are depression or simply “baby blues.” Because of this, she might not seek care for it by the time her insurance coverage expires—after only two months. By providing new parents with the support that they need for a full year after birth, we can prevent a challenging postpartum experience from becoming life-threatening.
These risks are why extending Medicaid coverage to 12 months has long been a recommendation of the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee. Medicaid covers half of all births in Texas, and studies show that “insurance churn,” where mothers lose access during the postpartum period, leads to worse outcomes. Extended postpartum coverage benefits infants as well as parents, especially for Black families. Prior to the pandemic, state Medicaid expansion was associated with reduced racial disparities in low birth weight and preterm births. For low-income patients, this coverage provides an essential support system during pregnancy and postpartum.
As Delfina expands our services in Texas, we’re excited to work with more patients during their pregnancies and into the postpartum period. We recognize that postpartum is a challenging and vulnerable time, and are building out our model to include postpartum care. With Delfina, patients receive non-clinical support from their Delfina Guide, a doula with whom they have worked during their pregnancy, to help them stay on track with their postpartum appointments. Delfina provides lactation support, and simple referrals to mental health clinicians, who patients can easily contact via telehealth. We also offer group classes both during and after pregnancy to help individuals prepare for life with a new baby. Now, with 12 months of Medicaid eligibility, Delfina moms can continue to take advantage of Delfina Care for as long as they need.
If you’re interested in doula support, group classes, and AI-optimized workflows to prevent complications, reach out to see what Delfina Care can do for you, your patients, or your members.