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Postpartum Support International's Mind the Gap Monthly connects a network of leaders to top stories, policies, legislation, and ways to work together to ensure Perinatal Mental Health is a national priority. We encourage you to submit items for future issues.
Action Alert! Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine launched an action alert template that enables anyone to easily contact their Member of Congress to encourage their support of FY22 funding for federal programs to improve maternal health.
Biden Marks Black Maternal Health Week with Major Policy Announcements
In honor of Black Maternal Health Week, the Biden Administration took several actions aimed at improving maternal health and Black maternal health, including:

1) President Joe Biden issued, A Proclamation on Black Maternal Health Week, 2021,” calling for all Americans to recognize the importance of addressing the crisis of Black maternal mortality and morbidity in the United States.

2) Vice President Kamala Harris hosted a roundtable at the White House focused on Black maternal health and racial inequities in maternal health outcomes.
3) Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) continued her work to improve maternal health outcomes by advocating for the Protecting Moms Who Served Act during a House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Health Subcommittee hearing. Underwood highlighted how our nation’s maternal health crisis impacts veterans and underscored the need to ensure that veterans have access to world-class maternity care, including comprehensive mental health support for pregnant veterans. This was the first bill in the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act to be considered in a committee hearing.
4) The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra announced the availability of $12 million over four years for the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) program. Awardees will test models to address unmet needs for their target population, focusing on populations that have historically suffered from poorer health outcomes and health disparities. 
President Biden’s “Skinny Budget” Proposes New Investments in Maternal and Mental Health
On Apr. 9, the Biden Administration transmitted to Congress a top-line summary of the fiscal year 2022 budget proposal for funding the federal government, including new investments in public health and maternal and child health. 
The so-called “skinny budget” jump-starts the federal appropriations process in Congress and includes more than $200 million to reduce maternal mortality and eliminate racial inequities in maternal health outcomes by: 
  • Bolstering maternal mortality review committees.
  • Expanding the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies program.
  • Helping cities place early childhood development experts in pediatric practices with a high percentage of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program patients.
  • Implementing implicit bias training for health care providers; and
  • Creating state pregnancy medical home programs.

The discretionary request also includes $1.6 billion (more than double the 2021 enacted level) for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant, which supports the particular needs of those impacted by the criminal justice system, provides funding for partnerships between mental health providers and law enforcement, and expands suicide prevention activities. This funding builds on investments in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
The full president’s budget (expected in May 2021) will provide further detail.  Keep in mind that the President’s budget is a proposal and does not hold the force of law. Ultimately, it is up to Congress to draft and pass federal appropriations legislation that directs spending across the federal government.
New Jersey Departments Required to Work to Secure Federal Funding for Maternal Mental Health 
Three Assembly Democrats - Mila Jasey (D-Essex, Morris), Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) and Anthony Verrelli (D-Hunterdon, Mercer) – sponsored a measure that would require the New Jersey Department of Health and Department of Human Services to identify and take steps to secure federal dollars for maternal mental health.

“Locating funding that can be used to establish, improve or maintain programs for screening, assessment and treatment of maternal depression will help get women the help they so desperately need following the birth of a child. Although there have been advances in terms of general public awareness about postpartum depression, there is still much more work needing to be done to help new mothers identify the condition, locate resources and get treatment.”  - Joint statement from Assembly Sponsors
Illinois Extends Medicaid Coverage for Postpartum Period
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Illinois’ request to provide full Medicaid benefits to low-income postpartum women up to 208 percent of the federal poverty level for 12 months from the end of pregnancy. Illinois is the first state to receive approval for a Section 1115 waiver request of this kind.
Massachusetts Representative Introduces Bill to Improve Access to Medications
Step therapy (when payers require patients to try certain medications before they will approve coverage of a higher-cost medication), can present barriers to needed treatment for pregnant and postpartum individuals. MA Bill 1603 seeks to make it easier for prescribers to get exceptions to step therapy protocols. View the full bill sponsored by Representative Marjorie Decker here.
More Pregnant Women Died and Stillbirths Increased During the Pandemic
More pregnant women died, experienced complications, or delivered stillborn babies during the pandemic than in previous years, according to an analysis of 40 studies in 17 countries published on Wednesday in the journal Lancet Global Health. A subset of studies that assessed mental health showed that postpartum depression and anxiety were also heightened during the pandemic.
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Download the Mind the Gap National Action Plan
The Mind the Gap Coalition developed the first ever national action plan to advance Perinatal Mental Health. The plan is a blueprint for collective action and serves as the cornerstone of our work. Download the plan.
You are receiving this communication because you have expressed interest in supporting Perinatal Mental Health as a national priority.

Mind the Gap Monthly is brought to you by The Reilly Group, Inc. and editors: Gabriela Rodriguez,
Jennifer Mckeever, and Colleen Reilly.

Special thanks to Alyson Northrup and Sarah Corcoran for their contributions to this month’s edition.