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Baldwin, Moore Introduce Legislation to Support Mental Health for Pregnant Women and New Moms

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI-04) introduced the Mental Health and Making Access More Affordable (MAMA) Act to better ensure pregnant women and new mothers can access affordable mental health care and substance use disorder services. The legislation would require commercial and government insurance plans to cover mental health care and substance use disorder services for pregnant women and new mothers for no additional cost for patients. Right now, one in five women in the U.S. suffer from a mental health disorder in the months before or after giving birth, the majority of whom never receive care.

“Wisconsin is in a maternal mortality crisis, and we need to do more to support new and expecting mothers and their babies,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’m proud to lead this effort to help more new mothers get the mental health support and substance use disorder treatment they need to stay healthy and set themselves and their babies up for success down the road.”

“Making substance use treatment and mental care more accessible and affordable is critical to tackling the maternal health crisis and protecting the health of mothers and their children. With this legislation, we can help remove cost as a barrier that prevents too many mothers from seeking the care and treatment they need. I am thrilled to partner with my colleagues on this much-needed legislation,” said Congresswoman Moore.

Maternal mental health conditions are the most common complication of pregnancy and birth, affecting 800,000 families in the U.S. each year. These rates are much higher among minority and lower-income populations, who face systemic barriers to care. Women of color are 3-4 times more likely to experience pregnancy-related complications during pregnancy and childbirth and to die from these complications. Low-income individuals are also less likely to receive treatment for their maternal mental health conditions. Suicide and overdose are also the leading cause of death for women the first year following pregnancy, and failure to treat maternal mental health conditions costs the U.S. $14 billion annually.

Specifically, the Mental Health and MAMA Act would:

  • Require commercial, Federal Employee Health Benefits plans and state/local government insurance plans to cover mental health or substance use disorder services with no cost-sharing to beneficiaries from the onset of regular pregnancy care and ending one year after the last day of an individual’s pregnancy.
  • Extend existing continuity of care requirements as passed in the No Surprises Act for mothers up to one year postpartum. These protections include network and coverage change notification requirements.

The legislation is also led by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and House companion legislation is being led by U.S. Congresswomen Annie Kuster (D-NH-02) and Lucy McBath (D-GA-07).

Endorsing organizations include the National Partnership for Women & Families, Power to Decide, March of Dimes, MomsRising, The Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance, National Council of Jewish Women, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Shades of You, Shades of Me, African American Breast Feeding Network, Dartmouth Health, Black Child Development Institute – Milwaukee and Meta House.