4 initiatives passed to ensure increased health for Texans: 2023 end of session report

During the 2023 Texas Legislative Session, the American Heart Association prioritized issues surrounding nutrition security, tobacco/vaping cessation, CPR education and maternal health

Leading up to the session, the American Heart Association developed an agenda to address the most pressing issues inhibiting improved health for Texans. The agenda included nutrition security, tobacco/vaping, CPR and maternal health.

This year, the Association successfully advanced legislation to ensure longer, healthier lives for all Texans through the passing of four bills including an extension of postpartum care, SNAP incentive funding and access, funding for tobacco control and blocking an industry-friendly e-cigarette tax. While not all priorities were passed, the Association made great forward movement in advancing these key policy items during the 88th Texas Legislative Session.

Below are the Association’s priorities and listing of bills supported by the Association during the legislative session.

  • Postpartum care extension
  • SNAP incentive funding
  • SNAP access
  • Tobacco control finding
  • Tobacco taxation
  • CPR/AED training in schools
  • Smoke-free air
  • Preemption

POSTPARTUM CARE EXTENSION A women smiling with her newborn baby laying on her chest

Extend Medicaid coverage to 12 months after childbirth

House Bill 12


House Author: Representative Toni Rose (D-Dallas)
Senate Sponsor: Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham)

  • Extends postpartum Medicaid coverage for low-income Texans beyond two months to 12 months.

House Bill 12 will ensure that mothers on Medicaid can receive a full year of comprehensive care after the birth of their child, rather than only two months. Cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of maternal mortality and complications and often arise after 60 days or are unable to be managed in that short time frame. A recent report by the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee estimated that 90% of the deaths it reviewed in Texas were preventable.

Shoppers pick out fresh produce Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Fondy Farmers Market, 2200 N. Fond du Lac Ave., Milwaukee.copyright American Heart Association


Ensuring funding to expand programs like Double Up Food Bucks to encourage healthy eating

House Bill 1


House Author: Representative Angelia Orr (R-Itasca)
Senate Sponsor: Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock)

  • Expansion of programs that offer SNAP recipients dollar-for-dollar incentives to purchase healthy fruits and vegetables

$6 million in grants will support expansion of programs like Double Up Food Bucks that offer SNAP recipients dollar-for-dollar incentives to purchase healthy fruits and vegetables. While these programs exist in certain urban areas, largely in farmers markets, increased funding will allow further expansion into more types of retailers and regions of Texas. Participating organizations must have demonstrated experience designing and implementing successful nutrition incentive programs that connect low-income consumers and agricultural producers, offer administrative and technological support to retailer participants to support uptake and participation in the program, and operate in at least two counties.

A young boy smiles with a cafeteria tray in front of him with healthy food and water


Extend Medicaid coverage to 12 months after childbirth

House Bill 1287


House Author: Representative Ryan Guillen (R-Rio Grande City)
Senate Sponsor: Senator Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso)

  • One-time inflationary update to the maximum value of a vehicle a household can own before they are disqualified from receiving food stamps.

This bill will update the “Vehicle Asset Test,” which sets a limit on the value of vehicles a household may own and still quality for SNAP benefits. This limit is currently $15,000 for a first car and $4,650 for a second car and has not been updated since 2001. In recent years, high inflation in the used car market has meant that thousands who used to qualify for SNAP no longer do. This bill updates both figures to 2023 inflation levels with the first vehicle valued at $22,500 and any additional vehicles valued at $8,700.

E-CIGARETTE MARKETING TO YOUTHImages of previous tobacco marketing campaigns

Protecting children from electronic cigarette advertising

House Bill 4758


House Author: Representative Shawn Thierry (D-Houston)
Senate Sponsor: Senator Drew Springer (R-Muenster)

  • Criminal offense if a person or company markets using cartoons, imitates packaging familiar to youth, mimics candy or juice containers or utilizes the image of a celebrity

E-cigarette manufacturers often package harmful products to appear nearly identical to popular candy, flavored juice boxes, and other edible treats. The similarity in packaging of e-cigarette products to children’s snacks is a direct appeal from manufacturers to children, which entices them to consume these dangerous nicotine products. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 2011 to 2021, vaping rates among middle and high school students increased from 1.5 percent to nearly 30 percent. This bill creates a Class B misdemeanor offense for marketing, advertising, selling, or causing to be sold an e-cigarette product in certain containers that are designed to appeal to minors, such as those depicting cartoon-like characters, those including an image of a celebrity, or those including images of food like candy or juice. In 2022, Texas announced a $43 million settlement with Juul labs for the company’s deceptive marketing and sales practices.

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