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Support for Breastfeeding Support

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Wrapping up a home visit, the mom thanked me for the breastfeeding support. I visited her and her six day old during a holiday week. We had a two-hour visit. First we discussed supply and latching. Secondly, we made sure her baby was getting fed. As a result, she was feeling better and her baby was contentedly pooping. The two hours in her place helped them get past important obstacles.

Lactation support of this depth is necessary, not a luxury. But what concerns me is that, many women do not expect they can get this support. Likewise, many families are surprised that their insurance should pay for it. And yet, the Affordable Care Act law requires it.

A recent settlement reaffirmed this. In October 2016, families filed a class action lawsuit against CareFirst. They had paid out-of-pocket for lactation support. Not only did CareFirst not have trained lactation professionals in network, they denied reimbursement for this mandated service, breastfeeding support.

In December 2018, the court ruled in favor of lactation support with a $3.6 million settlement. The settlement reaffirmed what the law states: No co-pay, no deductible. No cost to families…. support for the entire time of breastfeeding. Hopefully, others will learn from this. Equally important, insurance companies need to  include lactation professionals in their network and make this service available to their members.

Here in Massachusetts, there are some companies that reimburse for IBCLC home visits.

Some obstacles still remain. Medicaid requires only licensed health care providers. That means, they only provide for support from a nurse or doctor, who are licensed health care providers though they are not lactation specialists. Medicaid does not provide for care with any breastfeeding certification. That is why my colleagues and I advocate for licensure of IBCLCs: to assure access to the IBCLC level of care for all Massachusetts families.

It’s important to get the help you deserve sooner than later. In fact, the first two weeks make a difference in your milk supply. Breastfeeding support is necessary, it’s not a luxury.