The MOTHERS Act, The Mikulski Amendment, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Healthcare Reform… will somebody please explain?

Judging from the emails I’ve received today, some clarification would be helpful in understanding who’s on first, who’s at bat and when we may finally see our home run for America’s mothers and infants!

First, you can start by listening to this audio post which explains the basic initiatives of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act (i.e. MOTHERS Act) which do NOT include PPD screening or medication.

This new audio post includes interviews with Dr. Michael Petriella, OB/GYN from Hackensack University Medical Center, Celeste Andriot Wood, Assistant Commissioner, NJ Family Health Services, and myself, all of us hailing from NJ and having worked with PPD legislation as advocates, policy makers and healthcare practitioners.

This story originally aired on the nationally syndicated program Radio Health Journal in December 2009, and was produced by MediaTracks Communications.

The new Healthcare Reform legislation which just passed in the Senate is called The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It contains many healthcare initiatives and new policies focused on improving women’s health and ACCESS to healthcare.

The two bills it includes most directly related to postpartum depression are:

The MOTHERS Act (you can read the bill here) which calls for PPD public awareness campaigns, education, research and funding of PPD services sponsored by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, and The Mikulski Amendment (you can read a summary of this bill here) the very FIRST amendment proposed, passed and included in this bill which calls for screening for postpartum depression (among other women’s medical conditions including cancer screenings). This bill is sponsored by Senator Barbara Mikulski.

These initiatives are separate bills both of which the Senate approved for inclusion in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which passed in the senate on December 24th, 2009.

But neither of these initiatives would be receiving the public awareness and legislative support were it not for early efforts in the House and Senate to promote postpartum depression research and education. Congressman Bobby L. Rush has long been a champion of PPD research and education since moved by the plight of his constituent Melanie Blocker Stokes.

Melanie, a beautiful, intelligent mother of a young child with every reason to live, leapt to her death as a result of untreated postpartum illness. Her mother Carol Blocker has waged a tireless campaign to end ignorance. These early champions including Richard and Mary Jo Codey, who dared to look such darkness in the face helped create the initial public platform that led to laws in IL and NJ demanding more attention to postpartum mental health issues.

Regardless of your political leanings, this bill contains historic emphasis on women’s healthcare issues. And for those of us who are devoted to ending the stigma and lack of response to the public mental health crisis of PPD, our moment has come. Finally, the science, the studies, the stories and the unimpeachable truth of the devastating and deadly effects of untreated maternal depression are no longer to be ignored to the detriment of millions.

The next step in the legislative process for these initiatives to become law, is for the House and Senate to reconcile the two versions of the bill and send the final version back to both houses for victorious and final passage.

There is every reason to be encouraged that our PPD intiatives will remain intact during these negotiations as the House has previously passed – by nearly unanimous consent – The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act thanks to the decades long efforts of its House leader, Congressman Bobby L. Rush.

When will this happen? The passage of these initiatives are dependent on the passage of the entire healthcare reform package. It is expected that the intense legislative focus on healthcare reform could result in final outcome by early spring.

Meanwhile, PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION. As negotiations continue, it’s important that YOUR legislator from YOUR state see YOUR name as a constituent who supports this bill!

Legislators routinely check the petition to determine the strength of the public will, to see which agencies, organizations, facilities, individual and MOTHERS support this life saving legislation.

This petition is not a form fax or an internet generated letter, most of which hold little sway. If your name isn’t on your state’s list, please send your name, state and any affiliation (including that of mother!)to

Email addresses and other personal information are confidential, only your name and state appear on the list.

We are in the home stretch. Let’s give it all we got!


Creative Commons License
Perinatal Pro by Susan Dowd Stone, MSW, LCSW is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The MOTHERS Act, The Mikulski Amendment, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Healthcare Reform… will somebody please explain?

  1. Pingback: What Matters Today Blog News » Historic legislation good for people suffering from postpartum depression

  2. Kathleen Spadaro says:

    I am a psychiatric clinical nurse specialist who has been involved in research screening women postpartum for depression by telephone and also in my private practice office. These women express gratitude that health care professionals are interested in their mental health following the delivery of their baby. The earlier the screening and detection, the quicker the resolution of the depressive and anxiety symptoms which enables the mother to bond with their infant and provide the care the infant needs to the satisfaction of both!

  3. dickens3927 says:

    You can join /sign the petition as an organization or as individual by sending an email to susanstonelcsw listing your name, state and any affiliation (and no affiliation is more important than MOTHER, PPD survivor, supporter, advocate or affiliation that may related to the work you do with women, children and infants).

  4. Leslie W. Tam, MD says:

    Where do I sign? How can I forward the petition to others who would be interested??
    I am a reproductive psychiatrist in San Diego and just back in practice after my own health issues kept me away for 3 years. I am so excited to see the progress with the legislation!!!
    Thank you so much!!!

  5. dickens3927 says:

    Thank you Sally for sharing these important observations. Hopefully input from professionals like yourself can help inform future policies and submission for funding of appropriate services.

  6. thank you for advocating for passage of the Mother Act. Our organization is constantly seeing the fall out from the lack of social and psychological support for pregnant and postpartum women. Fortunately we also see the benefits when a woman gets the support of other women, other mothers and professional expertise. Thank you again. SallyHarrison,RN,PCNS Director Families First RI

Leave a Reply