Opening Keynote: Texas HHSC’s Michelle Alletto discusses mental health services and postpartum Medicaid coverage


Maddie McCarthy, Alex Nelson


Michelle Alletto, chief program and services officer at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), discussed the agency’s programs and priorities during the 2024 Texas State of Reform Health Policy Conference on Feb. 27.

Alletto said that in 2022, the Texas Legislature tasked HHSC with evaluating the effectiveness of the state’s mental health system.

“We found, like much of the nation, our population growth and workforce challenges exacerbated already-existing capacity challenges. [We found] that more support was needed for children and youth, particularly when they are in crisis, as well as preventing those crises from happening with early intervention efforts. And we needed more options for stepping up and stepping down from inpatient settings. 

To meet this charge, I pulled together our brightest team members to develop a roadmap that we hoped would inform policymakers. And thanks to the investments made by our legislature last session, we are well on our way … To expanding access in the state’s mental health system and enhancing services along the continuum of care.”


Gov. Greg Abbot and the Texas Legislature directed hundreds of millions of dollars toward HHSC to invest in the expansion of the mental health continuum, Alletto added.

“Investments include increased funding for community based mental health programs and justice grants, as well as funding for a new innovation grant program focused on providing community services to Texas youth. We are also increasing the number of sequential intercept model workshops.”


Alletto also highlighted the passage of House Bill 12, which expanded Medicaid postpartum coverage to 12 months after childbirth. HB 12 went into effect on March 1.

“Approximately 137,000 women will benefit from the extended postpartum coverage. We know that among high income countries, the US has the highest rate of maternal deaths. More than 50 percent of these deaths occur within one year of childbirth and are largely preventable. A full year of postpartum coverage offers women the opportunity to address any health issues that arise throughout that first critical year. I want to thank our state leaders for supporting this important measure.”


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