Judging from the emails I've received today, some clarification would be helpful in understanding who's on first, who's at bat and when we may finally see our home run for America's mothers and infants!
First, you can start by listening to this audio post which explains the basic initiatives of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act (i.e. MOTHER Act) which do NOT include PPD screening or medication.
This new audio post includes interviews with Dr. Michael Petriella, OB/GYN from Hackensack University Medical Center, Celeste Andriot Wood, Assistant Commissioner, NJ Family Health Services, and myself all of us hailing from NJ and having worked with PPD legislation as advocates, policy makers and healthcare practitioners.
This story originally aired on the nationally syndicated program Radio Health Journal in December 2009, and was produced by MediaTracks Communications.
The new Healthcare Reform legislation which just passed in the Senate is called The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It contains many healthcare initiatives and new policies focused on improving women's health and ACCESS to healthcare.
The two bills it includes most directly related to postpartum depression are:
The MOTHERS Act (you can read the bill here) which calls for PPD public awareness campaigns, education, research and funding of PPD services sponsored by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, and The Mikulski Amendment (you can read a summary of this bill here) the very FIRST amendment proposed, passed and included in this bill which calls for screening for postpartum depression (among other women's medical conditions including cancer screenings). This bill is sponsored by Senator Barbara Mikulski.
These initiatives are separate bills both of which the Senate approved for inclusion in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which passed in the senate on December 24th, 2009.
Regardless of your political leanings, this bill contains historic emphasis on women's healthcare issues. And for those of us who are devoted to ending the stigma and lack of response to the women's health crisis of pregnancy related mood disorders, our moment has come. Finally, the science, the studies, the stories and the unimpeachable truth of the devastating and deadly effects of untreated maternal depression are no longer to be ignored to the detriment of millions.
The next step in the legislative process for these initiatives to become law, is for the House and Senate to reconcile the two versions of the bill and send the final version back to both houses for victorious and final passage.
There is every reason to be encouraged that our PPD intiatives will remain intact during these negotiations as the House has previously passed - by nearly unanimous consent - The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act thanks to the decades long efforts of its House leader, Congressman Bobby L. Rush.
When will this happen? The passage of these initiatives are dependent on the passage of the entire healthcare reform package. It is expected that the intense legislative focus on healthcare reform could result in final outcome by early spring.
Meanwhile, PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION. As negotiations continue, it's important that YOUR legislator from YOUR state see YOUR name as a constituent who supports this bill!
Legislators routinely check the petition to determine the strength of the public will, to see which agencies, organizations, facilities, individual and MOTHERS support this life saving legislation.
This petition is not a form fax or an internet generated letter, most of which hold little sway. If your name isn't on your state's list, please send your name, state and any affiliation (including that of mother!)to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email addresses and other personal information are confidential, only your name and state appear on the list.
We are in the home stretch. Let's give it all we got!