Maternal & Infant Health
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Congressional briefing releases 2024 Maternal Mental Health State Report Cards

Natasha Takyi-Micah
Treuhaft Fellow for Health Planning
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May 20, 2024
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Mom Congress hosted a congressional briefing called Saving and Supporting Mothers on May 15, 2024. The briefing discussed issues birthing parents face in maternal mental health (MMH) and solutions to improve them. Nicholas Schemmel, Director of Federal Government Relations and Policy of Organon, talked about the presence of contraceptive deserts, counties where there is no access to contraceptive methods in health centers. Elizabeth Mitchell, president and CEO of Purchaser Business Group on Health (PBGH) highlighted the recommendations to improve MMH for customers of private insurance.

Recommendations to improve Maternal Mental Health conditions for those with private insurance

Recommendations include the requirement for prenatal depression and follow-up care, private insurance access for doulas and midwives, and having a social needs assessment to determine whether birthing parents need resources such as housing and food. Mia Keeys, Director of Federal Affairs of Hologic, Inc. later presented information about artificial intelligence (AI) in reproductive health.

Specifically, Mitchell described that the algorithm in the VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) calculator is flawed for Black and brown people; emphasizing that they are most likely to get a second c-section and if their first delivery was a c-section. The other purpose of the congressional briefing was the release of the 2024 Maternal Mental Health State Report Cards.

Three new measures informing Maternal Mental Health grades

Caitlin Murphy, a research scientist from George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, presented key information/facts about the new Maternal Mental Health State Report Cards. There are three new measures to help determine the grades:

  • Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) prenatal depression screening greater than 10% (among commercial insurance and/or Medicaid);
  • HEDIS postpartum depression screening greater than 10% (among commercial insurance and/or Medicaid); and
  • Whether a state has a Perinatal Quality Collaborative (PQC) that has prioritized MMH.

The first two new measures replaced a measure called obstetricians (OBs) required for MMH screening. Medicaid reimburses OBs for MMH screening was paused because the dataset does not currently exist from outside sources. Overall, the United States (U.S.) made a slight improvement on the status of MMH from D in 2023 toD+ this year.

Thirty-four states’ scores improved (Minnesota, New York, etc.), and five states (Alabama, Arkansas, Nevada, etc.) received failing grades this year compared to 40 states in 2023. Only three states received Bs as the highest grades (California, Pennsylvania, and Washington). Even though there has been some progress, the U.S. still have a long way to go to achieve better MMH outcomes for birthing parents.

For 2024, Ohio received a C-, a slight improvement from a D+ in 2023.

Ohio’s 2024 Maternal Mental Health grade up went up, slightly

Given the overview of the new state report cards, how did Ohio do? For 2024, Ohio received a C-, a slight improvement from a D+ in 2023. Ohio obtained the recent grade due to gaining an additional outpatient program and the number of claims submitted by providers to private insurance. The number of claims submitted must be at least 10 percent each for prenatal and postpartum patients. Other than the measures from the report cards, Ohio continues to make progress in addressing MMH through the Ohio Perinatal Mental Health TaskForce, where they recently completed their day of advocacy at the statehouse.

Representatives Somani and Ray introduced House Concurrent Resolution (H.C.R.) No.16 about the importance of perinatal mental health and the need to support a coordinated approach to address the challenges. The rise of MMH activities will ensure that this issue needs to be known to Ohioans, especially since they are a cause of pregnancy-related deaths for the state.

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