AUSTIN, TX – Texas started providing this year’s statewide Medicaid benefit on May 1, 2017, for mosquito repellent to prevent Zika virus transmission. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is offering the repellent to more Medicaid clients to ensure additional Texans are protected from the virus that can be devastating to unborn babies. For the first time in Texas, some boys and men will be eligible to receive the benefit, as well as women ages 45 to 55. Eligible recipients can pick up mosquito repellent at participating pharmacies without needing a prescription, as Texas Medicaid has issued a standing order for mosquito repellent for the benefit. “We want to support the health and safety of Texans,” said HHSC Executive Commissioner Charles Smith. “The best way to protect yourself from the Zika virus is by using mosquito repellent.”
Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, but it can also spread by sexual contact. While symptoms are often minor, Zika can cause severe birth defects in the babies of some women infected with the virus during pregnancy. The benefit is for pregnant women, women ages 10-55, and males age 14 and up who are enrolled in Medicaid managed care, fee-for-service, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and CHIP-Perinatal programs. Recipients can pick up mosquito repellent without needing a prescription. In addition, individuals who meet the eligibility criteria for Healthy Texas Women, Children with Special Health Care Needs, or the Family Planning Program can receive the benefit. Eligible clients in the CSHCN program require a prescription. The 2017 benefit includes up to two cans per month per eligible beneficiary. People are encouraged to call the pharmacy ahead of time because supply can vary by location.
Last year, the HHSC and Department of State Health Services received approval to use state funds for mosquito repellents and announced the availability of this new benefit. The 2017 benefit will build on ongoing efforts to prevent transmission. State health officials urge people to protect themselves at home and while traveling to areas where Zika is spreading. Precautions include consistently using mosquito repellent when outside, wearing long sleeves and pants, and using air conditioning or making sure window screens will keep mosquitoes out of the home. Texas is also calling on people to dump out containers that could hold standing water in and around their homes and businesses to deny mosquitoes a place to lay their eggs, decrease the overall number of mosquitoes, and help protect family members and neighbors from Zika. For more information about the Zika virus, visit TexasZika.org.