The Affordable Care Act forever changed the landscape for breastfeeding mothers in the United States. Now, insurance providers are required to extend support to breastfeeding mothers which includes insurance coverage for breastpumps. This was a huge step forward for breastfeeding advocacy; however these benefits were not extended to all breastfeeding mothers. Tricare is the health care program for over 9.6 million active duty service members, National Guard and Reserve members, retirees, their families, survivors, certain former spouses and others world wide. Tricare acknowledges that breastfeeding is one of the most beneficial things a mom can do for her baby and yet up to this point they provide limited support to breastfeeding mothers. You might be wondering why they are not required to provide the same amount of support to breastfeeding mothers, but because Tricare falls under a different set of laws they can march to the beat of their own drum. However, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri recently introduced a new bill that would require Tricare to provide more comprehensive support for breastfeeding mothers. Let’s discuss what the proposed Tricare revision could mean for you.
Currently Tricare does not cover manual breastpumps, basic electronic breastpumps or breastpumps for convenience (i.e. you plan to return to work), even if these are prescribed by a doctor. The only breastpumps covered are heavy-duty, hospital grade electronic breastpumps and these are only granted to moms who have delivered prematurely, and even then certain criteria must be met. Should a mother qualify, the breastpump is to be used exclusively in the hospital unless the physician can prove medical necessity to use the pump at home.
Senator Claire McCaskill’s proposed Tricare revision, S.1994 – Tricare Moms Improvement Act of 2014, is based on the premise that “new mothers in the military and military souses deserve access to the services consistent with coverage available in the private sector.” This proposed Tricare revision was introduced in the Senate on 2/4/2014 and quickly drew praise from the National Military Family Association, an advocacy group that represents military dependents, retirees and families.
Proposing this Tricare revision in the Senate was just the first step in awarding breastfeeding support to all new and expectant mothers in the military sector. For the revision to pass it must be passed by the Senate, the House, and then the President. We are monitoring the progression of this proposed bill because we support women’s rights to breastfeed. We’ve even helped thousands of women qualify for their free breastpump through insurance and the Affordable Care Act. If you have questions regarding your coverage feel free to give us a call at 844-867-9890; we look forward to hearing from you!