March 8, 2013 — Women's health advocates are urging HHS to clarify a provision of the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) that requires health insurers to cover equipment and services that support breastfeeding, Kaiser Health News reports.
According to KHN, many insurers are only covering the cost of manual breast pumps, rather than electric pumps, which are more efficient but cost hundreds of dollars more. For example, Kim Luft -- a pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente -- said the insurer would only cover electric pumps for women with certain medical needs, adding that manual pumps meet the basic needs of most women.
Judy Waxman -- vice president for health and reproductive rights at the National Women's Law Center -- said the problem is that the ACA does not specify what insurers need to cover with regard to breast pumps. "We are looking to [HHS] to clarify what it actually means so that women will be able to get the kinds of equipment that they actually need and will work for them," she said.
Mayra Alvarez, director of public health policy at HHS' Office of Health Reform, said insurers "must cover what doctors find medically appropriate for his or her patient" (Foden-Vencil, Kaiser Health News, 3/7).