May 10, 2010
POSTPARTUM LEGISLATION: Legislature Gave Mother’s Day Gift to MA Moms
Screening will be recommended but not mandated
POSTPARTUM LEGISLATION: Legislature Gave Mother’s Day Gift to MA MomsScreening will be recommended but not mandatedBoston and Amherst - The Massachusetts Joint Committee on Financial Services gave a favorable report to the Postpartum Depression Bill, House Bill 3897 on Friday, May 7th, two days before Mothers’ Day. The PPD legislation will take its next step forward in the legislative process to the Health Care Finance Committee instead of being stuck in the Financial Services Committee indefinitely. “Chairmans Peter Koutoujian, Stephen Buoniconti, and the Committee on Financial Services heard from the country’s top experts and from families who have experienced this first-hand, and they acted,” said lead sponsor Representative Ellen Story (D-Amherst), a mother of two and grandmother of one. “This bill is a small but important step in the right direction, because every step forward this bill takes, raises awareness and provides hope for families coping with Postpartum Depression. What better gift could we get for Mothers’ Day than this?” Senator Stephen J. Buoniconti, representing parts of Hampden County, is the co-chair of the Financial Services Committee. The bill was revised subsequent to its January 27, 2010 public hearing. It calls for a legislative task force charged with reviewing practices and resources currently in use in Massachusetts, providing guidance to the Governor and other authorities on national research and best practices in postpartum depression treatment, and holding hearings and meetings to come to recommendations on future policy. The bill now moves to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing for review of its potential economic impacts. “This is a no-cost bill which will provide empowerment and hope to women and families across the Commonwealth,” said Story. In it’s original form HB 3897, would have made screening for postpartum depression a universal occurrence. In strong consultation with MotherWoman of Amherst, and organizations around the state, Rep. Ellen Story emphasized the importance of screening but has changed critical language in the bill. The bill no longer mandates that providers must screen during perinatal and postpartum visits. The new language in the bill states that insurance companies will be mandated to report annually what if any efforts they are making in addressing postpartum depression through screening and other appropriate efforts.“This is an important issue for many of our mothers, community leaders and clinical providers,” says Liz Friedman, Director of the Postpartum Support Initiative of MotherWoman. “We want to encourage insurance companies to support physicians in providing appropriate care to patients as needed. We want to ensure that mothers have the care, information, education and support they deserve without having the extra burden of labels and mental health stigmas where they are not necessary.” Friedman goes on to say, “We know that providers want to educate, care for and refer mothers appropriately on this key health issue for all mothers.” Postpartum depression is the number one complication of mothers in the postpartum period. One in eight mothers will experience postpartum depression. Mothers who are identified early and receive education and resources, recover much more quickly and are able to thrive in their postpartum months. "The impact that this legislation will have on mother's health is enormous. We know from research that when mother's are identified and given resources they will thrive. When the mother's thrive the baby and the entire family thrive," says Annette Cycon, Founder and Program Director of MotherWoman. “What a mother’s day gift this is!” says NJ Rongner, mother of 10 month old Malone of Holyoke. NJ had no idea that she was experiencing a postpartum emotional crisis in the early weeks after her baby’s birth. She just knew that she was crying all the time and unable to feel connected to her infant son. During her pregnancy NJ, like all mothers, would have benefited from education, screening, resources and referrals in case of postpartum emotional challenges like postpartum depression. “I faithfully attended childbirth classes with my husband and felt very in control and educated about the different ways to give birth. I knew what would happen and felt like I was very prepared. No one told me what it was going to be like when I was home all alone with the baby and he is screaming his brains out and nothing I do makes him happy.” Thanks to Rep. Ellen Story, NJ and the women of the Commonwealth got the best Mother’s Day gift anyone could ever wish for: the Legislature moving the PPD legislation forward so that we are one step closer to all mothers receiving the support they deserve during the critical postpartum months of their babies’ lives.
Contact: Liz Friedman, firstname.lastname@example.org, 413-658-8231