With research indicating that breast milk can protect infants from infection and reduce rates of health issues developing later in life, a measure to include coverage for pasteurized donated human breast milk under Medicaid was approved by the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee on Thursday.
The bill (A-4747) would extend coverage under certain circumstances where either a mother is unable to give her child her own breast milk or an infant has a medical condition or need, as determined by a licensed medical practitioner. Coverage would be available to families with infants under six months of age.
Sponsors of the bill, Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, released the following statements:
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen): “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast milk as the exclusive source of nutrition for a child in their first six months of life. In extending health coverage for donated breast milk, we can ensure it is available and affordable for all mothers seeking to breastfeed and boost positive health outcomes for their babies.”
Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon): “This bill extends current law in New Jersey requiring that low-income families under Medicaid have the same access to breast milk as those under all other health coverage policies. With breastfeeding shown to have a protective effect against respiratory illnesses, ear infections, allergy development and other diseases, it is important to remove barriers and guarantee quality health care to all mothers and babies in need.”
The bill now goes to the Speaker for further review.