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Assuring Good Care for All Families

line paper money hanging on hook

Listening to debates, again, about repealing the Affordable Care Act, I hear too much uncertainty and acrimony. Massachusetts has an opportunity to do some good for family health care.

When the Affordable Care Act passed, my colleagues and I were hopeful that breastfeeding support would be consistently recognized. However, our survey* of Massachusetts families showed that insurance coverage for Lactation Consultant services was inconsistent. It was often not timely enough or easy to receive. In summary, families who could pay out of pocket had the most options.

A lot of families were left out, even with the insurance they had. One problem is that insurance often required visits with a licensed health care provider. In fact, this is a requirement of MassHealth and other Medicaid programs. However, not all licensed providers are breastfeeding specialists like an IBCLC.

Surgeon General Regina Benjamin’s Call to Action for Breastfeeding recognized  IBCLCs as “the only health care professionals certified in lactation care. They have specific clinical expertise and training in the clinical management of complex problems with lactation.”  (Action 11. Ensure access to services provided by International Board Certified Lactation Consultants.)

One solution is to license IBCLCs in Massachusetts. This is a state-by-state endeavor with Rhode Island, Georgia and New Mexico leading the way.

• Licensure recognizes the advanced training of the IBCLC. The IBCLC credential requires, on average, five years of education and clinical experience with a mentor to qualify for the exam.

• Licensure assures that clients are receiving the level of care that they need. This is important for the insurance companies who pay and health care providers who refer.

• Licensure of IBCLC also assures the families that they are receiving the care they need. Complicated issues (preterm babies, sick newborns, health issues in mothers, for example) deserve this thorough guidance.

• Licensure means access to advanced IBCLC lactation support for all families, especially lower income and those with Medicaid plans.

While the debate continues in Washington DC. we can take this positive action. Licensure of the IBCLC in Massachusetts assures that advanced lactation support is available for all families. This would be an excellent investment in the common health of Massachusetts.

 

* Clinical Lactation Volume 8, Number 1, 2017.  Snyder-Drummond R., Bingham H., Lang, J. “Massachusetts Parents’ Experiences With Insurance Coverage for Lactation Consultant Services”  )

Information about licensing in general.
Information about licensing in Massachusetts.