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State urges long-term contraception for women on Medicaid

Dominique Entzminger, a physician assistant of family medicine, wears a stethoscope during an examination at the Codman Square Health Center April 5, 2006 in Dorchester, Massachusetts. State lawmakers approved a health care reform bill March 4 that would make Massachusetts the first state in the nation to require all its citizens have some form of health insurance. Governor Mitt Romney is scheduled to sign the bill next week. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) Photo: Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Texas officials want to sell women on Medicaid on the use of long-term contraception that can help them avoid unwanted pregnancies, especially those struggling with significant health problems that are more likely to lead to premature or low birth-weight babies.The goal, state officials said at a House Public Health Committee meeting Thursday, is to urge women to use long-term contraception, particularly after finishing a pregnancy, to ensure they do not become pregnant again so soon."There are wonderful little oopsies and then there are horrible oopsies," said Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Denton and committee chair. Long-term contraception that can keep a woman from getting pregnant for years would be "a game-changer" for Texas, she said.According to state figures, nearly half of pregnancies are unplanned, the number of premature and low-weight births in Texas is higher than the national average, and children born addicted to opiates in the Lone Star State is on the rise.Other statistics discussed at the meeting show Texas as a mixed bag for women and newborns. The state's teen pregnancy rate is 16.4 per 1,000 women aged 13 to 17, a drop for Texas, although 22 percent are repeat pregnancies, according to the Texas Women's Health Coalition.SUBSCRIBE

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Texas officials want to sell women on Medicaid on the use of long-term contraception that can help them avoid unwanted pregnancies, especially those struggling with significant health problems that are more likely to lead to premature or low birth-weight babies.The goal, state officials said at a House Public Health Committee meeting Thursday, is to urge women to use long-term contraception, particularly after finishing a pregnancy, to ensure they do not become pregnant again so soon."There are wonderful little oopsies and then there are horrible oopsies," said Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Denton and committee chair. Long-term contraception that can keep a woman from getting pregnant for years would be "a game-changer" for Texas, she said.According to state figures, nearly half of pregnancies are unplanned, the number of premature and low-weight births in Texas is higher than the national average, and children born addicted to opiates in the Lone Star State is on the rise.Other statistics discussed at the meeting show Texas as a mixed bag for women and newborns. The state's teen pregnancy rate is 16.4 per 1,000 women aged 13 to 17, a drop for Texas, although 22 percent are repeat pregnancies, according to the Texas Women's Health Coalition.SUBSCRIBE

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Dominique Entzminger, a physician assistant of family medicine, wears a stethoscope during an examination at the Codman Square Health Center April 5, 2006 in Dorchester, Massachusetts. State lawmakers approved a health care reform bill March 4 that would make Massachusetts the first state in the nation to require all its citizens have some form of health insurance. Governor Mitt Romney is scheduled to sign the bill next week. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

State urges long-term contraception for women on Medicaid

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Congress reaches deal to overhaul chemical regulationIn 2014, 12.4 percent of babies were born too soon, according to the National Center on Health Statistics. Infant mortality sat at 5.9 percent that year, close to the national average, but 12 percent of African-American babies in Texas died before their first birthday, other state statistics show."Knowing that you can use a (Long-Action Reversible Contraceptive) while you grow up three years and make some more informed decisions, I think it's just a blessing, absolute blessing," Crownover said, pointing to success in Colorado which has pushed similar initiatives and saw the health of women and babies improve.The linchpin is providing women access to what is commonly called a LARC, flexible T-shaped devices with hormonal material that can be implanted in the uterus to prevent pregnancies for three to 10 years.Currently, access to LARCs is unreliable for low-income women who have to jump through Medicaid hoops to get the contraceptive, said Lesley French, associate commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission.The push for long-term contraception comes with the merger of two of the state's family planning initiatives into Healthy Texas Women, a program designed to help provide access to health care for low-income women.Under the existing program, a pregnant woman's Medicaid coverage would end 60 days after she gives birth. Beginning July 1, those women automatically will be enrolled in Healthy Texas Women for up to two years, gaining access to pap tests, screenings for hypertension and diabetes, breast and cervical cancer screening and other preventive services.Low-income women who do not quality for the state's Medicaid coverage could qualify for a sister program known as Family Planning, operating as a safety net to provide services for women who cannot afford alternative insurance. The biggest problem, officials say, is making sure women know these programs are available.

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Democrat Clinton wants Texans to open their wallets to help winState urges long-term contraception for women on Medicaid

Congress, White House strike rescue deal for Puerto RicoComputers and warrants: Some senators oppose Justice plan

Congress reaches deal to overhaul chemical regulationIn 2014, 12.4 percent of babies were born too soon, according to the National Center on Health Statistics. Infant mortality sat at 5.9 percent that year, close to the national average, but 12 percent of African-American babies in Texas died before their first birthday, other state statistics show."Knowing that you can use a (Long-Action Reversible Contraceptive) while you grow up three years and make some more informed decisions, I think it's just a blessing, absolute blessing," Crownover said, pointing to success in Colorado which has pushed similar initiatives and saw the health of women and babies improve.The linchpin is providing women access to what is commonly called a LARC, flexible T-shaped devices with hormonal material that can be implanted in the uterus to prevent pregnancies for three to 10 years.Currently, access to LARCs is unreliable for low-income women who have to jump through Medicaid hoops to get the contraceptive, said Lesley French, associate commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission.The push for long-term contraception comes with the merger of two of the state's family planning initiatives into Healthy Texas Women, a program designed to help provide access to health care for low-income women.Under the existing program, a pregnant woman's Medicaid coverage would end 60 days after she gives birth. Beginning July 1, those women automatically will be enrolled in Healthy Texas Women for up to two years, gaining access to pap tests, screenings for hypertension and diabetes, breast and cervical cancer screening and other preventive services.Low-income women who do not quality for the state's Medicaid coverage could qualify for a sister program known as Family Planning, operating as a safety net to provide services for women who cannot afford alternative insurance. The biggest problem, officials say, is making sure women know these programs are available.

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