Postpartum depression bill has now cleared both Kentucky chambers

Published 4:51 pm Thursday, March 16, 2023

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By Sarah Ladd 

Kentucky Lantern

A bill aimed at providing education and resources for new parents who may face postpartum depression has now cleared both Kentucky chambers.

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Senate Bill 135, sponsored by Sen. Shelley Funke Frommeyer, R-Alexandria, passed the House Wednesday 100-0.

The bill directs the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services to develop and widely distribute written information about postpartum depression.

The bill unanimously passed the Senate in late February.

It also directs CHFS to establish a panel of obstetric and mental health care providers who will investigate care gaps, specifically those related to race or geography.

That panel will make annual reports before Nov. 1 to the Interim Joint Committee on Health, Welfare, and Family Services and the Advisory Council for Medicaid Services with its findings and suggestions for addressing care gaps.

House floor sponsor Rep. Stephanie Dietz, R-Edgewood, said the bill is simple, but “the impact will be wide reaching and could mean the difference between life and death for some Kentucky mothers.”

The bill came after legislators heard testimony earlier this session that showed at least 8.4% of Kentucky’s maternal deaths between 2017 and 2019 were from suicide and more than 90% of the state’s maternal deaths are preventable.

That’s on top of already dismal maternal mortality rates in the state, which failed its March of Dimes maternal and infant health report card last year, the Kentucky Lantern previously reported.

The House approved by a voice vote a floor amendment that mirrors language from House Bill 436 to direct the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to submit a state plan application to provide inpatient and outpatient services through pediatric recovery centers to the “fullest extent permitted under federal law.” Both the amendment sponsor and bill sponsor was Rep. Matt Lockett, R-Nicholasville.

Typically, bills cannot share language with another. However, because time is running out in this legislative session, the House voted to suspend the rules to add parts of House Bill 436 to Senate Bill 135. House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Steven Rudy, R-Paducah, said the Senate was open to this change.

Reporter McKenna Horsley contributed to this report.