Expanded State Services for Some New Mothers Now Available
By David Doolittle

Burgess

Certain new mothers in Texas are now eligible for expanded care through Healthy Texas Women (HTW) after the first 60 days of giving birth, including treatment for postpartum depression and substance use disorder.

The expanded coverage program, called HTW Plus, is intended to reduce preventable maternal illness and deaths in Texas, a key Texas Medical Association priority.

HTW Plus was created as part of Senate Bill 750, passed in 2019, which directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to look for other ways to extend maternal health coverage through HTW.

It expands on HTW’s women’s health and core family planning services, such as pregnancy testing, sexually transmitted infection services and screening, breast and cervical cancer screening, and contraceptive methods.

However, the program’s launch comes when women who otherwise would lose pregnancy-related Medicaid 60 days after giving birth cannot be disenrolled, thanks to federal COVID-19-related protections enacted by Congress in March.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provided all states a 6.2% bump in federal Medicaid matching dollars contingent upon states maintaining coverage for anyone enrolled on or after March 18, 2020.

Per the FFCRA, the enhanced Medicaid funding and associated patient protections will remain in place through the last quarter of the COVID-19 public health emergency, which is set to expire Jan. 20, 2021.

As such, new Texas mothers enrolled in Medicaid will have access to its comprehensive benefits through at least the end of March.

HTW Plus’ services, which are not as comprehensive as Medicaid’s, include:

  • Individual, family and group psychotherapy for postpartum depression and other mental health conditions; 
  • Imaging studies, blood pressure monitoring, and certain medications for cardiovascular and coronary conditions;
  • Screening, brief intervention, and referral for treatment for drug, alcohol, and tobacco use.

HTW Plus will be open to uninsured new mothers ages 18 to 44 who have been pregnant within the past 12 months, HHSC said. Enrollees also must earn at or below 200% of the federal poverty level ($43,440 for a family of three in 2020), among other criteria.

If you currently provide services under HTW, there will be no additional requirements to provide HTW Plus services, HHSC said.

To become an HTW provider, you must enroll in Texas Medicaid through the Texas Medicaid & Healthcare Partnership (TMHP) online. The TMHP website also includes instructions to submit a paper application.

HHSC is hosting a webinar for HTW Plus physicians scheduled for 10 to 11 am (CT) Tuesday, Oct. 27. Register online and submit questions in advance via email.

HHSC also will host a webinar for HTW Plus patients from 10 to 11 am (CT) Thursday, Oct. 29.

Last Updated On

October 22, 2020

David Doolittle

Editor

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Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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