Press Releases

Kuster, Moore, McBath, Baldwin, and Shaheen Introduce Mental Health and MAMA Act

Washington, D.C. — Today, Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH), Gwen Moore (D-WI), and Lucy McBath (D-GA), alongside Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), introduced the Mental Health and Making Access More Affordable (MAMA) Act, which would require commercial and governmental health insurance plans that offer services related to mental health and substance use disorders to offer these, with no co-pay from the onset of regular pregnancy care through one-year postpartum.

Full bill text is available here.

“Pregnancy and childbirth are significant, life-changing events that can be both exciting and joyful but also challenging and overwhelming,” said Congresswoman Kuster, founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force. “I’m proud to help introduce legislation to expand access to no-cost mental health and substance use disorder services for pregnant and postpartum individuals, ensuring moms, parents, and their children have the support they need to thrive.”

“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.

“Through my own journey of starting my family, I struggled to get pregnant. I often wondered if I was ever meant to be a mother, and that weighed heavily on me and on my family. It is imperative that we address our country's maternal health crisis in every way that we can,” said Rep. McBath. “For the many Americans who experience mental health challenges or struggle with substance use before, during, and after pregnancy, I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation. This marks an important step in keeping America’s families healthy and whole."

“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.”

“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.

The lack of access to affordable mental and behavioral health care is a debilitating barrier for too many mothers and families,” said Jocelyn Frye, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “We also know that going without mental health care exacerbates existing inequities among women with the lowest incomes and women of color. “It's time to recognize that maternal mental health support is not a luxury, but an essential human right. I congratulate Rep. Moore on the introduction of the Mental Health and MAMA Act and her commitment to adequately addressing mental health care for pregnant and postpartum people.”

America continues to face an ongoing maternal health crisis, and more than 80 percent of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable.[1] Connecting more pregnant and postpartum women with mental health care conditions and substance use disorders to treatment is critical to saving lives and protecting the wellbeing of mothers and their children. Despite an estimated 1 in 5 pregnant and postpartum women experiencing depression, only a fraction of them receive treatment. This gap in care can have consequences for both mothers and their children, but connecting a mother to the care they need can benefit both mothers and their children. For example, mental health treatment can improve a mothers’ wellbeing and support strong bonding interactions between mothers and their baby.[2] Access to treatment for substance use during one’s pregnancy is proven to lower health risks for both the mother and their fetus, which is critical given that overdose deaths skyrocketed during the pandemic and continue to play a significant role in high national maternal mortality rates.[3]

Right now, there are several barriers to pregnant women accessing mental health care and substance use treatment they need, including cost of care. In addition to removing the co-pay requirement for pregnant and postpartum seeking these services in commercial and governmental plans, the MAMA and Mental Health Act also adds a continuity of care requirement where a patient’s treating provider's or health care facility's plan network status changes.

Endorsing Organizations: National Partnership for Women & Families, MomsRising, The Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, Shades of You, Shades of Me, African American Breast Feeding Network, Black Child Development Institute – Milwaukee, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, Meta House, Shades of Blue Project, Reproductive Health Impact, The Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs and ZERO To Three.