August 1 was not only the first day of World Breastfeeding Week, but it was also the first day of Required Women’s Health Care Coverage as outlined in the Affordable Care Act, passed March 2010.
One of the points out lined in the ACA is more breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling for nursing mothers. This is a huge leap for all mothers, but especially for nursing mothers who work outside the home.
(And yes, I will admit that not everything in the ACA is that bad.)
Under the old guidelines, nursing mothers who worked outside the home were often kept in limbo with respect to their rights. It really depended on the state. Mothers were told they had to pump in their cars or in bathrooms, if they were given permission to pump at all.
Now, under the ACA, employers must:
(A) a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth; and
(B) a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.
There are two exceptions to these requirements under the health care law:
- Employers are not required to pay employees who take a breastfeeding break—unless a state law says otherwise.
- An employer with less than 50 employees is exempt if the requirements would “impose an undue hardship” by causing it “significant difficulty or expense” as compared to the employer’s size, resources and business structure.
In February 2011, the IRS decided that breast pumps and lactation supplies were considered medical expenses and are eligible for reimbursement as well and under the ACA, insurance plans will have to cover lactation supplies, including medical-grade breast pumps and lactation concealing (IBCLCs.) But it is still a little confusing:
The new Affordable Care Act prescription requirement applicable to over-the-counter medications and drugs does not apply to these expenses as breast pumps and supplies are not drugs or medications.
No matter how you look at it, it’s a definite win for mothers who breastfeed and work outside the home.
Did you work outside the home and continue your breastfeeding relationship? What helped or hindered you?
Coming up this week:
Tomorrow: Seven Quick Takes: Breastfeeding in Social Situations
Saturday: Bad Medical Advice
Sunday: Breastfeeding in the Bible
Monday: Modesty and Breastfeeding (Guest Post over at Imperfect Kate)
Tuesday: Avoiding Bottle-feeding guilt