EHF/KFF Poll: Most Texans don’t know about recent increase in the state’s maternal mortality rate

October 23, 2018

A majority of Texans say that reducing the number of women who die from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth should be a top priority for state lawmakers, even though few correctly knew about a recent increase in the state’s maternal mortality rate. That’s one of the findings of a newly released report based on a statewide Episcopal Health Foundation/Kaiser Family Foundation survey of Texas health policy issues.

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Survey Report                                                               Topline Report

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The survey finds 17 percent of all Texans correctly said that the state’s maternal mortality rate has increased. That’s despite a recent report released by a state task force on maternal mortality that addressed the increase and made specific recommendations to improve women’s health before, during and after pregnancy.  Majorities of Texas women (62%) and men (55%) say state lawmakers should make maternal mortality one of the legislature’s top health priorities.

Almost six in 10 Texas women (59%) say the state legislature should spend more on health care programs compared to half (50%) of men.  The survey finds the biggest gap in opinions between men and women on health care occurs with Republicans. A majority (51%) of Republican women say they support increased state spending on health care compared with a smaller percentage (29%) of Republican men.

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The survey finds that almost four in 10 (37%) women of reproductive age (18-44 years) say it’s too difficult for women in Texas to access family planning and contraceptive services. The survey also finds women are more likely than men to say increasing women’s access to family planning and contraception should be a top health priority for state lawmakers (Women 41%/Men 29%).

When it comes to specific health priorities for the state legislature, women are more likely than men to prioritize increased funding for mental health programs (63% women/46% men), expanding Medicaid to cover more low-income Texans (50% women/42% men), improving access to rural hospitals (43% women/33% men) and increasing access to family planning and contraception (41% women/29% men).

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“These results show the increasing need for affordable access to a variety of health services for Texas women before and after pregnancy,” said Elena Marks, president and CEO of the Episcopal Health Foundation. 

The survey finds that affordability of health care is also a concern for women across the state. Women are more likely than men to say they or their family skipped or postponed some sort of care in the past 12 months due to high costs (69% women/53% men) and had problems paying for medical bills (44% women/32% men).

Designed and analyzed by researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Episcopal Health Foundation, the Texas Health Policy Survey was conducted from March 28-May 8, 2018 among a random digit dial telephone sample of 1,367 adults living in Texas. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (439) and cell phone (928). The margin of sampling error including the design effect for the full sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points. The margin of sampling error for both men and women in the survey is plus or minus 5 percentage points. For results based on subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.