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 given final legislative approval after passing unanimously, 77-0, in the full Assembly on Monday.
The bill (A-4747) would extend coverage for breast milk, to include human milk fortifiers if medically indicated, 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 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.”
Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson): “As my wife and I recently experienced, milk production is not always as seamless post-delivery as you’d hope or expect, nor does it always last as long as desired.
“The coverage extended under this legislation will be particularly important for parents with prematurely born babies or those babies who may need human breast milk for certain conditions for which formula is insufficient. As outcomes have shown, fortified breast milk can better provide the necessary nutrients for those in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to greatly increase healthy growth and development. Income should not determine which New Jersey families can ensure the health of their babies.”