LANSING—The legislative conference committee on the Michigan Department of Community Health budget on Tuesday approved a bill providing $2 million in state funds to ensure better access to quality equipment for nursing mothers.
In response to the concerns of a number of his constituents, Sen. Goeff Hansen worked to ensure the funds so that Medicaid-eligible women have access to breast pumps to support and encourage breastfeeding.
“I have been involved with the Muskegon County Breastfeeding Coalition for over a year working to resolve concerns about the lack of lactation services and breastfeeding trends,” said Hansen, R-Hart. “I learned that most families in our area do not follow the recommended guidelines for breastfeeding, but that many would do so if the necessary support, such as breast pumps, were available to them.”
Under Senate Bill 763, if a physician prescribes a breast pump for a breastfeeding mother, Medicaid will cover the cost.
According to lactation experts, breastfeeding has many benefits, including helping protect against disease and reducing rates of obesity. Numerous breastfeeding organizations recommend breastfeeding exclusively for six months as part of a healthy diet and as an optimal beginning for overall nutrition and health.
In Muskegon County, where more than 60 percent of births are covered by Medicaid, hospitals reported only 63 percent of families are initiating breastfeeding. Of the families that do breastfeed, only 8.9 percent are breastfeeding exclusively for six months.
“Given these statistics, it is clear our area is lagging behind,” Hansen said. “By specifically making personal electric pumps available, mothers will have the equipment they need to maintain supply, nourish their baby and gain positive health benefits for themselves.”
The conference report for SB 763 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.