‘Live Healthy Act’ becomes law

Photo of Melanin Mothers Meet Library Play Date
Photo Courtesy: Trishay “Mama Yata” Young

A number of related bills, known as the “Live Healthy Act,” were signed into law last week. Collectively the bills seek to address a myriad of issues impacting access to treatment and healthcare in Florida, including shortages in perinatal and mental health services. According to a study commissioned by the Florida Hospital Association in 2019, Florida is projected to have a deficit of nearly 18,000 medical practitioners by 2035, including nearly 500 OBGYNs and over 1,200 psychiatrists.

The study also determined providers are largely concentrated in metropolitan areas of the state.

State Senator Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland, hopes the Live Healthy Act will address these issues by expanding sites for clinical training to include more rural and difficult to access locations.

The bills will also disperse tuition assistance and reimbursement for medical professionals as well as loans to community centers and clinics located in rural areas that accept Medicaid.

Finally, it distributes licenses to practitioners permitting them to service multiple states.

Niesha Carwell, owner of The Alley Shoppe on South Adams Street and mother of five, believes the financial incentives in the measure will have the greatest impact.

“One aspect of the bill that caught my eye was the FRAME program. I think this expansion will attract more of a medical population,” she said.

For perinatal care it expands the services provided by licensed “advanced” birthing centers, alleviating some of the demand on hospitals. For mental health, it increases the availability of  tele-health services, expanding the types of practitioners who are permitted to prescribe medication to include psychiatric nurse practitioners and clinical psychologists. Finally, it expands the mental health illnesses traditional practitioners can diagnose and provide treatment for. For many families, perinatal and mental health care intersect.

Trishay “Mama Yata” Young, the CEO and founder of Melanin Mothers Meet, knows this firsthand, as her organization provides postpartum care for Tallahassee residents. She believes this measure will benefit the Tallahassee community.

“Many women experience postpartum depression, anxiety, psychosis and other mental health issues. Having access to trained providers can ensure timely diagnosis, treatment and support, improving overall maternal well-being,” she said.

Carwell expressed similar sentiments. “A vast majority of mothers’ mental health issues stem from postpartum after giving birth. With the addition of mental health providers, this will undoubtedly make access to mental healthcare more accessible for mothers and families,” Carwell said.

The American Psychiatric Association reports that depression is a concern for perinatal and postpartum patients. Furthermore, approximately 30 percent of perinatal and postpartum patients experience anxiety, 15 percent suffer from PTSD, and 20 percent have bipolar disorder. For some patients, there are long wait times for diagnoses and treatment.

In reference to the Live Healthy Act, Young said, “This can lead to improved maternal and infant health outcomes, reduced healthcare disparities, and stronger community well-being.”

More funding for community centers and clinics means less strain on hospitals as the sole provider of care to patients. This could mean better health outcomes for those patients who do receive treatment from hospitals.

Also, increased residency and financial support for student loans could help offset t healthcare workers’ expenses, ensuring quality providers are here to stay.

For more information about Melanin Mothers Meet visit www.MelaninMothersMeet.com. For more information about the Live Healthy Act visit the Florida governor’s website at www.flgov.com.