On Monday, the Trump Administration finally unveiled the "replace" portion of its promise to repeal and replace Obamacare: the American Health Care Act, which is already being nicknamed "Trumpcare," will bring sweeping changes to the American healthcare system. The reform will mean many changes for many Americans — but let's zero in on one specific, vulnerable group that received several important benefits under Obamacare. How will "Trumpcare" affect breastfeeding moms?
One specific provision in President Obama's Affordable Care Act (section 4207) ensured that women had a private space and sufficient break time in order to breastfeed at work, according to Fortune. Under Obamacare, health insurance plans by law had to provide both breastfeeding support and breastfeeding equipment to new mothers, as well as cover the cost of a breast pump.
"Trumpcare," so far, doesn't seem to have a plan in place to provide new mothers with that much-needed breastfeeding support. Details are still emerging, but at the moment, the full text of the new program doesn't mention provisions for breastfeeding spaces at workplaces, nor does it mention mandated breastfeeding support.
In fact, according to New York Magazine, essential health benefits will be repealed by 2020 under the American Health Care Act. According to The Los Angeles Times, that means the decision to provide maternity care (among other essential services like mental health services, hospitalization, and other services) will fall to individual states. If a state decides insurers don't have to provide maternity benefits, mothers under some insurance companies in those states could be looking at much higher costs for maternity coverage — if the service is provided by insurers in the area at all.
The thing is, the breastfeeding benefits introduced by Obamacare have been linked to positive results for mothers and children. Women who go back to work soon after giving birth — which is an unfortunate reality for many women, considering that the United States lags behind other developed countries when it comes to guaranteed paid maternity leave — are less likely to start breastfeeding, and they're more likely to stop after successfully breastfeeding than women who don't return to work. Having a private, healthy space to breastfeed or pump at work helps women continue to breastfeed, and, as research has shown, the long-term benefits of breastfeeding for a baby's health are incredibly compelling.
In a country where benefits for mothers lag behind many other developed nations, the government needs to be doing more to support moms, not less. Moms need to know they have the full support of the government and their workplaces when it comes to raising healthy babies, and pulling — or not even mentioning — essential services for mothers does the exact opposite.