North Texas Legislator’s Bill to Fight Maternal Mortality By Extending Care

Michelle Beckley (Courtesy of: State of Texas).

Representative Michelle Beckley of Carrollton is already making waves in Texas’ 2019 legislative section. The freshmen legislator defeated incumbent Republican Ron Simmons in November, and is now a joint author on a bill to extend care to mothers who received services through Medicaid.

Co-authored with Houston-area representative Jessica Farrar, House Bill 241 would provide medical assistance for at least 12 months to a small group of women who were eligible for the Medicaid services prior to pregnancy. As it stands today, these post-partum women only receive the aid for 60 days after pregnancy.

“Last year, Texas’s overall maternal mortality rate was 32.4 for every 100,000 births,” said Beckley via release. “Women’s health is an issue that transcends district and party lines and it’s way past time Texas did something about it.”

The data on Texas’ maternal mortality rate is perhaps not as bad as it once seemed, but either way it is not anywhere near other health outcomes and is too high for a country as wealthy as the United States. It was bad enough for the State of Texas to create a Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force to investigate the problem and make recommendations.

Beckley says healthcare was a common thread amongst constituents as she campaigned, and as a small business owner (she owns Kookaburra Bird Shop in Carrollton), she understands how difficult it can be to provide decent healthcare for her employees. Beckley wants to address the uninsured rates in Texas in addition to maternal mortality, which is particularly high among African American women.

“There are third world countries that have better maternal mortality rate than Texas,” she says.

Despite being in the minority as a Democrat, Beckley is hopeful for her bill. She has a good relationship with fellow Texas A&M graduate and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, and believes this is an issue both sides can get behind. She knows there might be compromise, but believes any extension of services will help.

In regard to other healthcare bills, Beckley mentioned working to help small business owners get insurance for their employees, looking at medical cannabis, and addressing the loss of rural hospitals.

Beckley was not a very political person prior to running for office, but she is enjoying her time in Austin representing North Texas. “I feel like I belong here,” she says. “This is what I am here for. I am here doing what I am supposed to do.”