Tag Archives: licensure

ACA and Breastfeeding in Utah

11 Feb

 

Breastfeeding baby Ogden

Newborn

Breastfeeding and the Affordable Care Act

Many of the new breastfeeding provisions of the Affordable Care Act
(some also call it Obamacare) went into effect on January 1, 2013.

There are some great provisions.  One is the workplace pumping laws
that require an employer to provide adequate time to pump and a place
that is -not- a bathroom for pumping.

Another one is no cost-sharing to the patient for breastfeeding help
and supplies.  This means that every woman with health insurance
should have access to knowledgeable breastfeeding helpers and a pump
if she needs it.

As you read these, you will notice that they are very vague.  This is
one of the best and worst parts of the whole law.  It means there is
wiggle room.  It also means that nobody yet knows how this is going to
look.  It will probably be different in every state.

In Utah, we are still struggling to figure out how it all works.  Since there are so few out-of-hospital IBCLCs, we are still not sure how to even go about asking for reimbursement.  We are in the process of reaching out to other IBCLCs to investigate licensure issues and other advocacy for getting breastfeeding help into the hands of those who need it most.  If you would like to help in any way please join and become involved in the Utah Breastfeeding Coalition.  There is much work to be done and only a limited numbers of hands to do the work.

One of the issues many are having is that the ACA is so big.  When new and already frazzled parents call their insurance company to request information about their benefits, the person on the the end of the line is not 100% sure about what is required by the ACA in regards to breastfeeding support.  I’m not so sure that the attorneys who drafted the act even know everything that is in there.  It is simply too comprehensive for everyone to know.  I know the breastfeeding bits, because they pertain to my situation as an IBCLC, but I certainy don’t even know the lion’s share of the other stuff in there.

Because of this, insurance companies themselves are floundering as to who will actually provide this “breastfeeding support” spoken of in the ACA.  It makes sense that the people to help mothers with breastfeeding issues should be the ones who have had training and education in breastfeeding, right?  Well, we are not yet on provider panels and there is no infrastructure yet to have us on panels.  Some of us in this great state of Utah are trying to fix that.  Here in Ogden, there are no official lactation clinics at all.  The two main hospitals in Ogden have lactation staff which can occasionally provide outpatient care, but that is neither their purpose nor their responsibility.  Once a mother/baby dyad has left the hospital, they are officially discharged as patients and are now “in the community”.

In other states and cities, IBCLCs work in tandem with pediatrician offices and are part of the staff.  Babies can be seen as part of their well baby visits and insurance companies are doing pretty well at reimbursing for that.  But here in Ogden, that is not the case.  It will not likely improve unless we all work together to change the landscape of breastfeeding support in our wonderful town.  We need more trained IBCLCs who are ready to help mothers after discharge.  We need more physicians to have IBCLCs in their offices and we need more breastfeeding clinics that give *all* mothers access to knowledgeable care.  We need more mothers to demand these changes from their doctors and hospitals.

The last time I looked, according to the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA), there were only 3 IBCLCs registered as members of this professional organization in Weber County.  Yes, that is right: 3.  Only 3 people to help all of Weber County mothers with breastfeeding.  A county with over 236,000 people.  Now, it’s true that there are more people than just the 3 of us who are providing breastfeeding support.  And its a good thing.  There is WIC (who has a couple of peer counselors providing direct care to mothers), the hospital lactation staff at both hospitals, and doulas who are providing breastfeeding support.  And it simply is not enough.

Moms, look for your local help.  Ask your doctor for referrals to IBCLCs.  Studies are showing again and again that IBCLCs do matter when it comes to improving breastfeeding outcomes.  You can do it!  We all have to work together, but we can help our babies earn their birthright when it comes to health.