Poor Medicaid coverage for lactation care and services, continued
The Kaiser Family Foundation and the George Washington University, School of Public Health and Health Services, Department of Health Policy, conducted a survey to assess each state’s Medicaid coverage policies regarding reproductive health services. Their findings showed that despite the recognition of the importance of breastfeeding in improving women’s and infant's health, coverage of breastfeeding support services for low-income women is dismal. Twenty-five of the responding states cover breastfeeding education services, 15 states cover individual lactation consultations and 31 states cover equipment rentals, such as pumps. Alabama, DC, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia do not cover any of these breastfeeding support services. This staggering disparity contributes to the reduced rates of breastfeeding seen in low income populations, increasing the risk of poor health outcomes for mothers and infants who cannot afford to pay for lactation services.
Advocates may wish to contact their state Medicaid provider and open a dialogue for improved lactation coverage. Better health outcomes translate to fewer health care dollars being spent on diseases and conditions for which breastfeeding has been shown to be preventive. Download a summary here of research articles showing improved outcomes when mothers experience support provided by a lactation consultant.
The full report, "State Medicaid Coverage of Perinatal Services: Summary of State Survey Findings November 2009" is available from http://www.kff.org/womenshealth/upload/8014.pdf. Members may wish to contact their state Medicaid offices and begin a dialogue for improving coverage of lactation care and services.