Doctors and women’s health advocates say they are “alarmed” and “disheartened” by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to rollback his promise of health coverage for low-income women who are diagnosed with postpartum depression or anxiety.
It was one of many cuts to mental health funding the governor proposed in his revised budget to close the $54 billion shortfall created by the coronavirus pandemic, which psychologists now say will likely be followed by a mental health pandemic.
“Two-thirds of minimum wage jobs are held by women, who are at risk of losing those jobs and childcare and are under enormous distress,” said Joy Burkhard, executive director of 2020 Mom, an advocacy group for maternal mental health. “We know that this population is at extreme risk for maternal mental health disorders.”
Burkhard’s group helped pass a state law in 2018 that now requires doctors to screen new moms for postpartum depression and anxiety. Obstetricians soon noticed that the moms who were most vulnerable to the conditions were low-income women covered by Medi-Cal – half of all births in California are covered by the state’s Medicaid program.
But pregnancy-related Medicaid coverage ends six weeks after the baby is born.