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The New Health Care Reform Bill and Breastfeeding

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Just before Christmas, the U.S. Senate passed a health care reform bill. One provision of the complex bill actually pertains to breastfeeding. Writing on the Huffington Post, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), noted:

One of my favorites–in part, I confess, because I led the fight for it–is the amendment that guarantees every mother returning to work the privacy and flexibility in break time needed to nurse her child or pump breast milk. Breastfeeding is great for the baby’s and the mother’s health, and is a big factor in emotional bonding as well.

Merkley summarizes other parts of the bill:
* 30 million Americans will gain access to affordable health care.
* 10,000 additional communities will get community health centers.
* A new Health Care Bill of Rights will:
** ban the practice of barring health insurance to citizens with pre-existing conditions;
** ban the practice of dumping policy holders who get sick or injured;
** enable children to stay on their parents’ policies through age 25;
** ban discrimination based gender or health histories; and
** ban lifetime coverage caps.
* Insurance purchasing pools (exchanges) will give individuals and small businesses–who have been lambs to the slaughter when trying to buy insurance–access to fair rates.
* Insurance companies must spend at least 80%-85% of premiums on health services (higher than the current national average).
* America will invest far more in prevention and disease management.

For an understanding what has to happen next, before this bill could become law (more negotiations and final votes in the Senate and House), read this New York Times article. Also, visit President Obama’s website.

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