HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Texas has the eighth highest maternal mortality rate in the country with 35 deaths per 100,000 births and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made maternity care more difficult.
Nearly one in four women in Texas don’t have health insurance, which is over double the percent for the rest of the United States.
Hispanics make up the majority of uninsured Texans, nearly two-thirds of the total.
“Disparities are most pronounced in border counties where the rate of uninsured women is nearly 30%,” said Ina Minjarez, a state representative from San Antonio.
Following a legislative session that saw Texas enact one of the harshest restrictions on abortions in the country, director of San Antonio’s Healthy Start program Kori Eberle, said the state should work on improving health and maternity care for women in future sessions.
“It’s really very important that we prioritize women’s healthcare throughout the life course,” she said. “Make sure that we have preventative care that women are connected to health services, that they have health insurance coverage.”
Maternity care has suffered alongside all healthcare because of pandemic hospitalization surges.
Dr. Patrick Ramsey, the vice chairman for the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies, said the delta variant poses an increased risk for pregnant women.
“[The] last two months we’ve seen a huge surge of pregnant women being admitted for serious respiratory difficulty, intensive care unit admissions,” he said.
The pandemic has caused an increase in telehealth that Dr. Ramsey said is beneficial to expanding the reach of maternity care in the future.
“It’s a very efficient approach to care, it increases access and overall provides better care for patients,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey said telehealth visits would allow women who can’t make an in-person appointment still visit a doctor.