An Open Letter about the MOTHER’S Act to Kirstie Allie


S 324 IS

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 324

To provide for research on, and services for individuals with, postpartum depression and psychosis.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

January 26, 2009

Mr. MENENDEZ (for himself, Mr. DURBIN, Ms. SNOWE, Mr. LAUTENBERG, Mr. WHITEHOUSE, and Mr. BROWN) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

A BILL

To provide for research on, and services for individuals with, postpartum depression and psychosis.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ‘Melanie Blocker Stokes Mom’s Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research, and Support for Postpartum Depression Act’ or the ‘Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act’.

SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.

For purposes of this Act–

(1) the term ‘postpartum condition’ means postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis; and

(2) the term ‘Secretary’ means the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

TITLE I–RESEARCH ON POSTPARTUM CONDITIONS

SEC. 101. EXPANSION AND INTENSIFICATION OF ACTIVITIES.

(a) Continuation of Activities- The Secretary is encouraged to continue activities on postpartum conditions.

(b) Programs for Postpartum Conditions- In carrying out subsection (a), the Secretary is encouraged to continue research to expand the understanding of the causes of, and treatments for, postpartum conditions. Activities under such subsection shall include conducting and supporting the following:

(1) Basic research concerning the etiology and causes of the conditions.

(2) Epidemiological studies to address the frequency and natural history of the conditions and the differences among racial and ethnic groups with respect to the conditions.

(3) The development of improved screening and diagnostic techniques.

(4) Clinical research for the development and evaluation of new treatments.

(5) Information and education programs for health care professionals and the public, which may include a coordinated national campaign to increase the awareness and knowledge of postpartum conditions. Activities under such a national campaign may–

(A) include public service announcements through television, radio, and other means; and

(B) focus on–

(i) raising awareness about screening;

(ii) educating new mothers and their families about postpartum conditions to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment; and

(iii) ensuring that such education includes complete information concerning postpartum conditions, including its symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources.

SEC. 102. SENSE OF CONGRESS REGARDING LONGITUDINAL STUDY OF RELATIVE MENTAL HEALTH CONSEQUENCES FOR WOMEN OF RESOLVING A PREGNANCY.

(a) Sense of Congress- It is the sense of Congress that the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health may conduct a nationally representative longitudinal study (during the period of fiscal years 2009 through 2018) of the relative mental health consequences for women of resolving a pregnancy (intended and unintended) in various ways, including carrying the pregnancy to term and parenting the child, carrying the pregnancy to term and placing the child for adoption, miscarriage, and having an abortion. This study may assess the incidence, timing, magnitude, and duration of the immediate and long-term mental health consequences (positive or negative) of these pregnancy outcomes.

(b) Report- Subject to the completion of the study under subsection (a), beginning not later than 5 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, and periodically thereafter for the duration of the study, such Director may prepare and submit to the Congress reports on the findings of the study.

TITLE II–DELIVERY OF SERVICES REGARDING POSTPARTUM CONDITIONS

SEC. 201. ESTABLISHMENT OF GRANT PROGRAM.

Subpart I of part D of title III of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 254b et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 330G the following:

‘SEC. 330G-1. SERVICES TO INDIVIDUALS WITH A POSTPARTUM CONDITION AND THEIR FAMILIES.

‘(a) In General- The Secretary may make grants to eligible entities for projects for the establishment, operation, and coordination of effective and cost-efficient systems for the delivery of essential services to individuals with a postpartum condition and their families.

‘(b) Certain Activities- To the extent practicable and appropriate, the Secretary shall ensure that projects funded under subsection (a) provide education and services with respect to the diagnosis and management of postpartum conditions. The Secretary may allow such projects to include the following:

‘(1) Delivering or enhancing outpatient and home-based health and support services, including case management and comprehensive treatment services for individuals with or at risk for postpartum conditions, and delivering or enhancing support services for their families.

‘(2) Delivering or enhancing inpatient care management services that ensure the well-being of the mother and family and the future development of the infant.

‘(3) Improving the quality, availability, and organization of health care and support services (including transportation services, attendant care, homemaker services, day or respite care, and providing counseling on financial assistance and insurance) for individuals with a postpartum condition and support services for their families.

‘(4) Providing education to new mothers and, as appropriate, their families about postpartum conditions to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment. Such education may include–

‘(A) providing complete information on postpartum conditions, symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources; and

‘(B) in the case of a grantee that is a State, hospital, or birthing facility–

‘(i) providing education to new mothers and fathers, and other family members as appropriate, concerning postpartum conditions before new mothers leave the health facility; and

‘(ii) ensuring that training programs regarding such education are carried out at the health facility.

‘(c) Integration With Other Programs- To the extent practicable and appropriate, the Secretary may integrate the grant program under this section with other grant programs carried out by the Secretary, including the program under section 330.

‘(d) Certain Requirements- A grant may be made under this section only if the applicant involved makes the following agreements:

‘(1) Not more than 5 percent of the grant will be used for administration, accounting, reporting, and program oversight functions.

‘(2) The grant will be used to supplement and not supplant funds from other sources related to the treatment of postpartum conditions.

‘(3) The applicant will abide by any limitations deemed appropriate by the Secretary on any charges to individuals receiving services pursuant to the grant. As deemed appropriate by the Secretary, such limitations on charges may vary based on the financial circumstances of the individual receiving services.

‘(4) The grant will not be expended to make payment for services authorized under subsection (a) to the extent that payment has been made, or can reasonably be expected to be made, with respect to such services–

‘(A) under any State compensation program, under an insurance policy, or under any Federal or State health benefits program; or

‘(B) by an entity that provides health services on a prepaid basis.

‘(5) The applicant will, at each site at which the applicant provides services funded under subsection (a), post a conspicuous notice informing individuals who receive the services of any Federal policies that apply to the applicant with respect to the imposition of charges on such individuals.

‘(6) For each grant period, the applicant will submit to the Secretary a report that describes how grant funds were used during such period.

‘(e) Technical Assistance- The Secretary may provide technical assistance to entities seeking a grant under this section in order to assist such entities in complying with the requirements of this section.

‘(f) Definitions- In this section:

‘(1) The term ‘eligible entity’–

‘(A) means a public or nonprofit private entity; and

‘(B) includes a State or local government, public-private partnership, recipient of a grant under section 330H (relating to the Healthy Start Initiative), public or nonprofit private hospital, community-based organization, hospice, ambulatory care facility, community health center, migrant health center, public housing primary care center, or homeless health center.

‘(2) The term ‘postpartum condition’ means postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis.’.

TITLE III–GENERAL PROVISIONS

SEC. 301. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

To carry out this Act and the amendment made by section 201, there are authorized to be appropriated, in addition to such other sums as may be available for such purpose–

(1) $3,000,000 for fiscal year 2009; and

(2) such sums as may be necessary for fiscal years 2010 and 2011.

SEC. 302. REPORT BY THE SECRETARY.

(a) Study- The Secretary shall conduct a study on the benefits of screening for postpartum conditions.

(b) Report- Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall complete the study required by subsection (a) and submit a report to the Congress on the results of such study.

SEC. 303. LIMITATION.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act or the amendment made by section 201, the Secretary may not utilize amounts made available under this Act or such amendment to carry out activities or programs that are duplicative of activities or programs that are already being carried out through the Department of Health and Human Services.

Sen. Menendez holds Press Conference at Valley Hospital


This past Monday, Senator Menendez held a press conference at Valley Hospital to speak about the MOTHER’S Act. Susan Stone, Sylvia Lasalandra, and Mary Jo Codey were all in attendance.

Emphasized was the fact that the MOTHER’S Act does NOT mandate screening. According to the Susan Stone’s blog post announcing the press conference, Dr. Fred Rezvani, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood NJ, emphasized the need to include all forms of treatment for new mothers suffering from these disorders including nutrition, massage and acupuncture and other complementary therapies, to home services, social support and psychological counseling.

Senator Menendez was presented with a petition of national organizations and individual constituents representing millions of Americans who understand the need for this legislation can no longer be ignored. With the bipartisan support that currently exists for the legislation, its likelihood of passage among the priority of healthcare reform seems likely, but the advocacy efforts must continue! The entire audience expressed their thanks to Senator Menendez for his determined advocacy on behalf of America’s mothers.

~Susan Stone~

You can read more about the press conference by clicking here.

Friday Soother 04.24.09


"Ploughed Fields" by etrusia_uk @ flickr

"Ploughed Fields" by etrusia_uk @ flickr

You cannot plough a field by
turning it over in your mind.

Author Unknown

(Blog Week to support the MOTHER’S Act ends today. Have YOU called the H.E.L.P. Committee yet?)

Senator Coburn: A walking oxymoron


Tom Coburn makes my head hurt!!!!!!!

Seriously. I was doing my homework on Senator Coburn last night and landed a headache miles longer than Route 66.

Senator Tom Coburn, R, OK, has been by far one of the staunchest opposers of the MOTHER’S Act.

BUT –

He’s an OB

He’s delivered 4,000 babies.

Statistics would lead you to believe he’s seen at LEAST a few cases of PPD, right?

According to Dr. Coburn, breastfeeding is automatic protection against postpartum mood disorders. (Ok Sen Coburn – so where was my protection when I was exclusively nursing my first daughter or exclusively pumping for my second? seriously – where was it? Was it hiding under some mysterious rock? Behind my back? Did I leave it at the hospital? Perhaps my first OB stole it from me – but wherever it was, I sure as heck didn’t have it!)

His primary argument for being against The Melanie Blocker Stokes Act? He doesn’t support disease specific legislation. Yeah, um, ok.

Let’s delve into some legislation Senator Coburn has authored, shall we? (By the way, everything below was pulled directly off his Senate website)

Guaranteeing Patient’s Rights (author)

A law to guarantee patients’ rights for those enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid, including timely access to primary and specialty health care providers, a timely grievance process with appeals, an explanation of the enrollee’s rights and plan information, and prohibitions on restrictions on communications between patients and doctors and financial incentives to encourage health care providers to deny medically necessary care. Provision contained within Public Law 105-33, signed 8/5/1997.

YET Dr. Coburn does NOT accept Medicaid/Medicare patients at HIS OWN PRACTICE! (OK Medical Board website)

Streamlining the Approval of Disease Diagnostics (author)

A law to improve the review and approval process of radiopharmaceuticals (articles used in the diagnosis or monitoring of a disease). Provision contained within Public Law 105-115, signed 11/21/1997.

(Is it just me or is the word DISEASE not only in the title but the description too?)

Protecting Babies from AIDS (author)

A law to require all pregnant women to be counseled about and offered testing for HIV to prevent the transmission of the virus to unborn and newborn babies.  Provision contained with Public Law 104-146, signed 5/20/1996.

(Hmmm. AIDS is a disease. Pretty specific one too. AND this one requires counseling and an offer of a test)

Treating and Preventing HIV/AIDS (author)

A law to provide access to AIDS treatment for underinsured Americans living with HIV, including counseling for those with HIV emphasizing it is the continuing duty of those infected not to infect others with the disease.  Public Law 106-345, signed on 10/20/2000.

(Wow. Treating AND Preventing HIV, huh? Feeling a little warm over here…)

Providing Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs (author)

A law to allow Americans to import prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Provision contained with Public Law 106-387, signed 10/28/2000.

(So he’s ok with importing drugs that yes, may be approved by the FDA but only God knows from where some of them are sourced. Yet he wants to deny new moms access to care and aid for Postpartum Depression?????)

Preventing Cervical Cancer(author)

A law to educate the public about human papillomavirus (HPV), a leading cause of cervical cancer, including how to prevent HPV infection. The law also requires condoms to be relabeled with a warning that condom use does not protect against HPV infection. Provision contained within Public Law 106-554, signed 12/21/2000.

(Wow. A law to educate the public about a DISEASE. Again – common ground?)

Source: http://coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=AboutSenatorCoburn.Accomplishments on April 21, 2009 @ 1132pm.

Seriously though.

Postpartum Mood Disorders should not be a ping pong ball across the aisles of the Senate. Just as it is not black and white out here in the real world as to who will get it, it’s not JUST a Democratic Issue. It’s not JUST a Republican Issue. It’s an every party issue. It’s a 20% of ALL new moms issue. It’s a 50% higher risk of repeat for survivors the second time around. It’s a 95% risk of repeat for survivors the third time around! It’s a 2.3x higher risk for Moms who have husbands/partners deployed issue. It’s a 3x higher risk for first time Moms over the age of 35 developing Postpartum Psychosis issue. It’s a HUGE issue, ok?

I want to know at what point in the feminist movement Moms got screwed over. When did we become ok with chilling on the back burner? Where is Susan B Anthony when we need her? Anyone out there in need of a kick in your activism spirit? Watch Iron Jawed Angels. It’s about suffrage. And man did those chicks go through it. I HOPE it doesn’t come to that but I am passionately determined to get this bill passed. Thing is, I can’t do it by myself.

Senator Menendez can’t do it by himself. Neither can Congressman Bobby Rush. Or Carole Blocker. Or Susan Stone. We need YOUR help, YOUR voices. Your stories of survival, strength, and experiences with a system that is failing new families each and every day. We HAVE to raise awareness.

Don’t wait any longer to pick up that phone and call the H.E.L.P. Committee. Go to your email and send a message RIGHT now to Susan Dowd Stone (susanstonelcsw@aol.com). Include your name, state, and any professional credentials or organizational affilitations. Let others know you support the MOTHER’S Act.

SPEAK UP!

National Association of Certified Professional Midwives Endorses MOTHER’S Act


With astonishing grit and determination, midwifery is making a comeback here in the United States. Back in the day (and boy do I mean BACK in the day), midwifery was common practice. Many women relied on other women to help them through pregnancy and childbirth. You see, childbirth has not always been as medically complicated as it is now. In fact, involving a doctor in childbirth started out as a status symbol towards the end of the eighteenth century. Even though women in the home had been acting physicians for years, a belief sprung up that these same women were “emotionally and intellectually unable to learn the new obstetric methods.” Medical schools were also not available for women to attend. Thus began the introduction of the Obstetrician and the downfall of the biblical midwife. (see Genesis 35:17. Yes, GENESIS!)

One of the primary risk factors for a Postpartum Mood Disorder is lack of social support. When midwifery was widely practiced here in the United States, childbirth was a very social event. Women would fill the homes of the expectant mother with food, offers of respite, shared knowledge, and community.

Nowadays many of us are lucky if we even get one meal prepared for us let alone any offers of respite immediately after birth. Yet what are we told to do? REST! But how are we to do this when society fails to allow us to do so? And what happened to our 40 days? Why is it that every other culture seems to treat their mothers better than ours? When did we allow ourselves to take a backseat? Where’s the self-care in the birthing period? And more importantly – why have we as women allowed this to be stolen from us? Why are we silently suffering?

The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHER’S Act stipulates the funding of a rather large awareness campaign for both medical professionals and consumers. Through this campaign, mothers would be able to shed the stigma which keeps them from seeking help. It would enable new mothers to be more comfortable with coming forward into the light rather than staying in the dark as a risk not only to themselves but to their families as well. Mothers and families would be educated about the signs, symptoms that may indicate postpartum depression. They would also be educated about prevention tips and self-care methods that would either completely prevent or significantly shorten any negative Postpartum Experience.

It is important to note that The National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM) has endorsed the MOTHER’S Act. With this endorsement comes recognition that yes, something is wrong with the birthing system in America. We need to start somewhere. Why not with Midwives? Why not with Mothers who want to give birth the way it was meant to be experienced? While still possible, risks of developing a Postpartum Mood Disorder are significantly lower when a doula or a midwife is present at birth. (If you really want an eye opener into the mess of the Birthing Industry, I highly recommend The Business of Being Born)

So on this day, April 22, 2009, Earth Day, I urge you to call the H.E.L.P. Committee and let them know the MOST important thing to preserve today is the Mother/Child dyad. We can do this by passing the MOTHER’S Act. First we need to get it OUT of the HELP Committee and onto the Senate Floor.

Email Susan Dowd Stone (susanstonelcsw@aol.com) over at Perinatal Pro to have your name placed on the list in support of the MOTHER’S Act. (Be sure to include your name, state, any credentials and/or organizational affiliations!)

A Postpartum Mood Disorder doesn’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. Heck, the mom seeking help from her doctor doesn’t even care what his or her political views are. All she cares about is that he/she is aware of what’s going on and is willing to work with her to find a solution that fits her lifestyle.

Today let your Earth Day Action be a political one.

Call the H.E.L.P. Committee.

Support The MOTHER’S Act!

Save a Mom.