Advocate for Texas' Moms and Babies
The March of Dimes Texas Chapter leads policy and legislative efforts that support our mission of improving the health of women of childbearing age, infants and children by reducing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. The key to that success is the commitment and involvement of our grassroots volunteers in demonstrating to policy makers and legislators how the work that we do saves lives in Texas. Below are details about our current policy priorities. We hope you will be inspired to get involved in these efforts - do so by clicking here to join our Texas Advocacy Network.
Texas Advocacy Issues and Priorities
The Texas March of Dimes Chapter has a list of over 20 priorities that we are advocating during the current 83rd Texas legislative session that started January 8, 2013 and ends May 27, 2013. Below is information on our top 3 legislative priorities this session and their current status. Check back for updates on how these issues are progressing.
- Preserving Texas Medicaid & CHIP for pregnant women and newborns: Medicaid and CHIP are key sources of health insurance coverage for preterm infants and those born with birth defects. More than 56.4% of all births in Texas are paid by Medicaid, and 1 out of 6 of them are born preterm. One way that we can decrease the preterm birth rate in Texas, and the subsequent high cost to Medicaid and CHIP, is to maintain Medicaid eligibility and enrollment for pregnant women so that they receive early access to prenatal care.
HB 10 Funding for Medicaid Shortfall for 2013: On March 13, 2013 the Governor signed HB 10 into law. HB 10 contained emergency appropriations funding for various Texas programs including funding for Medicaid & CHIP. During the last legislative session, the Legislature had deferred $4.7 billion in Medicaid funding until January 2013. HB 10 provided this funding so that the pregnant women and newborns in Texas will continue to receive services through the rest of 2013. The March of Dimes played a key role in getting this bill passed.
Medicaid Expansion: The March of Dimes supports expanding Texas’ Medicaid program to cover individuals newly eligible under the Affordable Care Act, particularly women of childbearing age. Studies have shown conclusively that lack of access to health coverage causes women to delay or forego needed health treatment, including both preventive and sick care. For women of childbearing age, this means that critical opportunities to improve their health before pregnancy are missed. If women can obtain regular health care services to help them quit smoking, achieve a healthy weight, and maintain normal blood pressure and blood sugar levels, they are much more likely to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. The Medicaid expansion provides states with the opportunity to extend health coverage to women before and between pregnancies, improving health for both them and their infants.
HB 740 by Rep. Myra Crownover relating to newborn screening for Critical Congenital Heart Disease: On March 13, 2013, the House Public Health Committee heard HB 740 which would add screening for Critical Congenital Heart Disease to the panel of screenings conducted on all newborns in Texas. Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the number one cause of infant deaths from birth defects. It is a problem with the heart’s structure and/or function which is present at birth. Critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) is a subgroup of all congenital heart defects that affects approximately 4,800 babies born in the United States each year, and over 550 babies each year in Texas. Babies with CCHD have severe, life-threatening symptoms that require intervention, such as surgery, in the first few hours, days, or months of life. The screening that HB 740 provides will allow for early detection and timely intervention for CCHD which can decrease morbidity and mortality and lead to better outcomes for the baby. The March of Dimes is advocating in support of HB 740 and is hopeful that it will continue to move through the process toward becoming a law.
SB 64 by Senator Jane Nelson relating to a policy on vaccine-preventable diseases for licensed child care facilities: On March 13, 2013, the Texas Senate passed SB 64 which would require all licensed child care facilities to develop a policy for vaccine preventable diseases for their employees. Historically, the March of Dimes has been centrally involved in vaccine issues. Vaccines are among the most effective means of preventing infectious diseases. Like health care workers, adults working in child care centers face an increased exposure to bacteria and viruses. Child care workers also can pose additional risks to a vulnerable child population. SB 64 is key to protecting the health of our children. The March of Dimes has been supporting this piece of legislation and will continue to push for it to be passed in the House.
- Sign up for the March of Dimes Advocacy Network to receive updates and action alerts related to our advocacy priorities. Click here to sign up to participate in the Texas Advocacy Network.