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New Texas mothers who are Medicaid recipients would receive better health coverage for up to 12 months under major plan approved by House of Representatives and supported by DHR Health - Titans of the Texas Legislature

FEATURED: Dr. Carlos Cárdenas, MD, Chair, Board of Managers, DHR Health, says House Bill 12 – approved by Texas House of Representatives on Friday, April 21, 2023 and awaiting action by the Senate – would be “fantastic” for new Texas mothers who are Medicaid recipients. This image was taken on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance.

Photograph Courtesy DHR HEALTH FACEBOOK


New Texas mothers who are Medicaid recipients would receive better health coverage for up to 12 months under major plan approved by House of Representatives and supported by DHR Health

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New Texas mothers who are Medicaid recipients would receive better access to primary and preventative care – for up to 12 months instead of the current two months after giving birth – under a measure approved by the Texas House of Representatives on Friday, April 21, 2023, and supported by DHR Health leaders.

All eight state representatives from the Rio Grande Valley voted for House Bill 12.

House Bill 12 now goes to the Senate for their action.

Dr. Carlos Cárdenas, MD, and Chair, Board of Managers, DHR Health, said the goal of House Bill 12 would be “fantastic” for women patients and their loved ones.

“We know that if we can extend Medicaid coverage to our most vulnerable – children after they are born – and give that ability to their new mothers, we can have a significant impact on the health of the child. That translates into higher performances as they grow,” he said.

Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, Ltd (“DHR”) and its general partner, RGV Med, Inc. (“RGV Med”) own and operate a 583 licensed beds in five hospitals across the Rio Grande Valley. DHR Health is one of the nation’s largest independent health systems and the largest physician-owned hospitals in the United States.

House Bill 12, authored by Rep. Toni Rose, D-Dallas, would extend postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months after the end of a pregnancy for people who are currently eligible for Medicaid, which could lower maternal morbidity and mortality rates in the state and save lives, according to supporters of the legislation.

Maternal morbidity is any health condition attributed to and/or aggravated by pregnancy and childbirth that has negative outcomes to the woman’s well-being.

Maternal mortality is the death of a woman while pregnant or within one year of the end of the pregnancy for any cause related to or aggrieved by the pregnancy.

“It’s absolutely imperative that we do this. I am very, very supportive of moving forward to 12 months – we’d love to get 18 months if at all possible. But 12 months would be fantastic,” Dr. Cárdenas continued. “It would double where we are now. It was something that was a Texas Medical Association initiative as well, going back to when I was president of the TMA. To come to fruition is something that we are very, very supportive. I think it’s visionary and a great move for our Legislature to do the right thing for children and women.”

The Texas Medical Association is a professional nonprofit organization representing more than 55,000 physicians, residents, medical student and alliance members. It is located in Austin, has 110 component county medical societies around the state, and is the largest state medical society in the United States.

Dr. Cárdenas served as the 2017-2018 President of the Texas Medical Association.

As the author of House Bill 12, Rose is the legislator who filed the bill and is guiding it through the legislative process (also called the primary author).

A bill is a type of legislative measure that requires passage by the Senate and House of Representatives and action by the governor in order to become effective. A bill is the primary means used to create and change the laws of the state.

“Filed” is used to refer to a measure that has been introduced into the legislative process and given a number.

According to the House Research Organization, which is the nonpartisan research arm of the House of Representatives:

• Many pregnancy related deaths are preventable, and providing comprehensive health care after delivery could improve pregnancy outcomes;

• By giving Medicaid recipients better access to primary and preventative care during and after pregnancy, House Bill 12 could reduce health care costs by preventing more pregnancy complications.

• Comprehensive postpartum coverage also could reduce racial disparities in health outcomes for pregnant people.

According to a bill analysis of House Bill 12:

Over the last several years, policymakers, researchers, and the public have focused considerable attention on the number of maternal deaths and adverse health outcomes resulting from pregnancy and delivery in Texas. For example, the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee and the Department of State Health Services jointly submitted a report in 2022 that found that 44 percent of maternal death cases reviewed occurring within one year of pregnancy were identified as pregnancy?related and that there was a chance for preventability in 90 percent of the reviewed pregnancy-related deaths.

Additionally, the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission has recommended that Medicaid coverage be provided for 12 months postpartum, and the U.S. Congress enacted legislation in 2021 giving states the option to provide 12 months of coverage through a state Medicaid plan amendment. House Bill 12 seeks to provide for this 12 months of postpartum Medicaid coverage for women in Texas.

Dr. Cárdenas Biographical Sketch

Dr. Carlos J. Cárdenas, MD, has almost 30 years of experience in medicine and health care management.

He was raised in McAllen, Texas, and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Austin College in Sherman, Texas. Following his undergraduate studies, he attended and graduated medical school from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.

He began his medical career as an intern and resident at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas, in 1985.

Dr. Cárdenas became a board certified internal medicine specialist in 1988, and has served as an internal medicine physician in various medical organizations since 1991.

He co-founded South Texas Gastroenterology Associates in 1992, where he is actively practicing.

Dr. Cárdenas served as President of the Hidalgo – Starr Medical Society in 2001, and was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Texas Medical Association in 2005. He was elected as president-elect of the Texas Medical Association in 2016 and served as president of the association in 2017-18.

Dr. Cárdenas serves as Chair, Board of Managers, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance.

He was one of seven physicians who helped found Day Surgery at Renaissance, LLC.

More about DHR Health

DHR Health is a health system that operates two general acute hospitals, the only dedicated women’s hospital south of San Antonio, a rehabilitation hospital, a behavioral hospital, and more than 70 clinics Valley-wide. DHR Health offers the most comprehensive and advanced healthcare services in the Rio Grande Valley including – but not limited to – advanced cancer services, the only transplant program in the Rio Grande Valley, and as of September 8, 2021, the first 24/7 Designated Level One Trauma Center south of San Antonio.

On Tuesday, November 16, 2021, Driscoll Health System held a groundbreaking ceremony for Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley, located at 2820 W. Michelangelo Drive in Edinburg, which is being built on the site of the DHR Health campus, next to DHR Health’s The Women’s Hospital at Renaissance. DHR Health was instrumental in working with Driscoll Children’s Hospital to bring the first true freestanding children’s hospital to the Valley.

The new, independently operated eight-level pediatric hospital will further the mission of Driscoll Children’s Hospital founder Clara Driscoll to provide medical care to all the children of South Texas. The building is expected to be completed later in 2023.

The Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley represents a combined investment of more than $105 million. Driscoll Children’s Hospital Rio Grande Valley will operate with more than 500 employees, creating significant economic impact and new job opportunities for clinical, ancillary and support staff in the Valley.

On Wednesday, March 29, 2023, DHR Health and Texas A&M University Health Science Center (Texas A&M Health) announced an expansion of their long-standing collaboration in clinical research (and graduate medical education. With this new agreement, the Texas A&M School of Medicine will become the academic affiliate for the DHR Health Graduate Medical Education residency and fellowship programs.

This relationship further reinforces Texas A&M Health’s commitment to developing workforce pipelines in areas most impacted by physician shortages in the state.


For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (

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