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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Health Panel Advises Depression Screenings During and After Pregnancy

January 28, 2016 | Children and Youth | Comments
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On Tuesday, a US medical panel recommended that all adults, including pregnant and postpartum women, get screened for depression. This is the first time the US Preventive Services Task Force – an independent panel of scientists – specifically advised mental health screenings for women during and after pregnancy. Insurers will now be required to cover depression screenings without cost-sharing under the Affordable Care Act’s list of preventive services.

“There’s better evidence for identifying and treating women with depression” during and after pregnancy, said Dr. Michael Pignone, an author of the recommendation. As a result, he said, “we specifically called out the need for screening during this period.” To date, New Jersey is the only state that requires screening of this population. However, it has seen mixed results due to lack of sufficient compensation.  The new guidance will require insurers to cover these screenings pursuant to the Affordable Care Act.

Of particular importance to behavioral health providers in the new guidelines is their emphasis on ensuring availability of follow-up care. Previous versions of the guidelines had cited the lack of availability of appropriate follow-up care as a factor in declining to recommend screening for all adults. In contrast, the new guidelines note that with greater availability of mental health care throughout the US health system, referrals to appropriate care are now more accessible.