For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Peter Clark, 512-417-9262
AUSTIN – Yesterday afternoon Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 2466, legislation by Rep. Sarah Davis and Sen. Joan Huffman to allow more new mothers to receive a postpartum depression screening. Under the new law, when moms take their babies to well check appointments that are covered by Children’s Medicaid or CHIP, they can receive a screening covered through their baby’s insurance. According to the Legislative Budget Board, over 200,000 Texas mothers will be eligible for the screening each year.
The bill was one of the recommendations highlighted in a report on postpartum depression published by Texans Care for Children earlier this year. The report also notes that postpartum depression is very common, affecting one in six Texas mothers.
“This is an important step forward in supporting healthy moms and healthy babies,” said Adriana Kohler, Senior Health Policy Associate at Texans Care for Children. “About half of all cases of postpartum depression are undiagnosed, so this move to improve screening opportunities is absolutely critical. Of course, there’s much more work to do, including working to ensure that women have access to counseling or other treatment once they are diagnosed.”
The bill was one of the few steps that the Legislature took this session to address the state’s maternal mortality crisis. Suicide is one of the leading causes of pregnancy-related deaths in Texas.
In addition to supporting maternal health, the bill will also support the health of Texas babies. In families affected by postpartum depression, parents may be less likely to implement injury prevention measures, such as putting their baby on her back to sleep. Children may be more likely to experience developmental delays, such as delays in language and brain development. Early screening and treatment of postpartum depression are critical for a child’s health, brain development, and ability to succeed in school.
“We appreciate Gov. Abbott, Rep. Davis, and Sen. Huffman working to address this critical issue,” said Ms. Kohler. “We also appreciate all of the other organizations that helped in this effort, including the Texas Pediatric Society, Texas Medical Association, and March of Dimes. We look forward to working with state leaders to build on this success and ensure that Texas families have the support they need for healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.”