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

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) are introducing legislation, the Mental Health and Making Access More Affordable (MAMA) Act, to alleviate financial barriers to mental health care and substance use disorder services for pregnant women and new mothers by eliminating cost-sharing for treatment during and after pregnancy. 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. The House companion legislation is being led by U.S. Congresswomen Gwen Moore (WI-04), Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Lucy McBath (GA-07).

“Our country is facing a maternal mental health crisis, and all too often, the mental health needs of pregnant women and new moms fall to the wayside as they adapt to life with a newborn. We can do more to ensure they have the support they need, which is why I’m proud to work with Senator Baldwin to introduce this bill that would allow more women to access mental health and substance use disorder services,” said Senator Shaheen.

“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.”

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.

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, Meta House, Shades of Blue Project, Reproductive Health Impact, The Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs and ZERO To Three.