A bill recently introduced in the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee would require Michigan pediatricians to offer postpartum mental health screenings to new mothers.
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Senate Bill 1198, introduced by Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak), would require state pediatricians to offer mental health screenings that have been approved or developed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
The bill would require pediatricians to offer these screenings until a child reaches 18 months of age in intervals specified by MDHHS. The bill also requires pediatricians to provide a new mother with mental health resources approved or developed by the department, and these resources must be provided to the mother no later than 1 month after giving birth.
The resources provided to the mother must include a list of postpartum mental health conditions and their symptoms, treatment options for these mental health conditions, and available support systems for mothers experiencing these conditions.
The bill is waiting to be heard for the first time in the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee.
The state has taken on numerous efforts to support the health and well-being of postpartum Michiganders this year. Earlier this year, CMS approved the state’s request to expand Medicaid coverage for new mothers for a continuous 12-month postpartum period, as part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s statewide Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies initiative.
“Being able to ensure continuity of care for Michigan moms and babies is critical to reducing preventable deaths and will lead to better long-term health outcomes for new parents and newborns,” MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said about the approval. “Extending Medicaid postpartum coverage will assist the state in its continued efforts to improve access to care for all Michigan families and equitable health outcomes.”
This extended postpartum coverage includes benefits like physical and behavioral health services, substance use disorder treatment, and dental care.
In her information sheet for the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies initiative, Whitmer cites that Detroit’s maternal mortality rate is 3 times greater than the national average, and pregnant Black women are more likely to die than non-Hispanic white women. Michigan also ranks 38th in the nation for infant mortality rate.
In terms of mental health, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are the most common pregnancy complications in the nation.
According to America’s Health Rankings, over 16% of women who had recently given birth in Michigan reported experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression in 2020, compared to 13.6% of women in the nation.
Whitmer’s strategic plan includes expanding Medicaid coverage for postpartum women to a full year, partnering with providers and universities to address health disparities in the state, expanding access to home-visiting programs to connect more families with services, and expanding access to family planning and contraception that the woman chooses for herself.