Update: Donor Breast Milk bill

I’m happy to report this was worth the four hours drive to Augusta and back.

On January 23, testimonies were heard at the State House regarding • LD 1938: An Act Concerning MaineCare Coverage for Donor Breast Milk. All of those who spoke were in favor of this, no one was opposed. There were no testimonies from Neither For or Against. There were personal stories and good explanations of why breast milk, and donor breast milk, is especially important for a fragile newborn.

At one point, a senator asked about using formula if breast milk is not available. Ah! That is the heart of the matter. A Human woman’s body makes breast milk designed for a human baby.   It is a very specific, not comparable to formula. I tossed my prepared testimony aside and gave a three minute synopsis of one topic from my prenatal class: how breast milk is different from formula.

Seeing the supporters and hearing the questions, I felt it was probably one of the best days I’ve spent at a State House! And there’s good news from the Maine State Breastfeeding Coalition.

During the Work Session on Wednesday, February 12th, the Maine legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee unanimously voted in favor of LD 1938, An Act Concerning MaineCare Coverage for Donor Breast Milk, sending it on to the full legislature. Thank you to Representative Margaret Craven for sponsoring the bill and advocating for fragile babies!”

This is what this bill requires: “…that the Department of Health and Human Services provide reimbursement under the MaineCare program for pasteurized donor breast milk provided to an infant if a physician, physician assistant or advanced practice registered nurse signs an order stating that such milk is medically necessary and the infant is medically or physically unable to receive maternal breast milk or participate in breastfeeding or the infant’s mother is medically or physically unable to produce maternal breast milk in quantities sufficient for the infant.”

Donor Breast Milk is so important for premature, sick, fragile babies and their mothers. In fact, because human breast milk is crucial to  the microbiome and baby’s developing immune systems, human breast is so important for all babies. I feel it should be available to every family, whatever health insurance they have.  There are many ways to support families who want to breastfeed, this bill is a step in the right direct to support particularly vulnerable babies.

Thank you to the Maine State Breastfeeding Coalition and the Milk Bank Northeast for their work on this.

 

tea cup with Maman written on it for collecting milk

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