National Black Nurses Association and National Coalition for Infant Health Urge Pennsylvania Legislature to Amend SB 500 for Human Milk Coverage

Breastfeeding© kate_sept2004 from Getty Images Signature / Canva

PENNSYLVANIA — The National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) and the National Coalition for Infant Health have jointly requested the Pennsylvania State Legislature to amend Senate Bill 500 (SB 500) to include Medicaid coverage for an exclusive human milk diet.

On Tuesday, October 24, 2023, the two organizations issued a statement advocating for the rights of fragile infants, particularly those with very low birth weights who often begin their lives in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs). They emphasized that an exclusive human milk diet is clinically proven to reduce the risks of severe diseases and illnesses for these babies.

The statement read, “For parents and medical professionals that have spent time inside the NICU with loved ones and patients, they deserve to know preemie babies in every zip code across Pennsylvania are getting access to an exclusive human milk diet.”

The organizations further highlighted the equity issue at stake, noting that the African American community suffers from higher rates of prematurity and higher infant mortality. They called on the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and members of the Legislature to amend SB 500 to help save more lives and provide proper nutrition to the most vulnerable population.

Both the NBNA and the National Coalition for Infant Health had previously written separate letters to the Legislature urging for this amendment. They cited clinical evidence showing that an exclusive human milk diet leads to better health outcomes and shorter hospital stays for premature infants.

The proposed amendment to SB 500 represents a significant opportunity for legislators to ensure that all infants, regardless of their socio-economic status or zip code, have access to the best possible start in life. The decision now lies with the Pennsylvania State Legislature to consider these pressing health and equity issues and make the necessary amendments to the bill.

Click here to read the National Black Nurses Association Letter.

Click here to read the National Coalition for Infant Health Letter.

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