Weekly Wire: November 5, 2021
The Staying Abreast: Weekly Wire e-Newsletter is a compendium of news, actions, and resources considered to be of interest or relevance to the breastfeeding field. The newsletter aims to support the USBC mission "To drive collaborative efforts for policy and practices that create a landscape of breastfeeding support across the United States." Included items are submitted for consideration or identified by the USBC e-news team via extensive online review. Whenever possible, the newsletter utilizes language directly from the primary source of an item without additional analysis or edits. In some cases, the USBC offers additional perspectives through the "USBC Insights," media and partner highlights, and the "News & Views" section. Inclusion of an item in the e-newsletter does not imply endorsement or support by the USBC of an item or organization, unless specifically noted.
In this Issue:
- USBC Updates
- Analysis of Fiscal Year 2022 Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill
- Special Section on the Build Back Better Act
- National News
- Analysis of U.S. Breastfeeding Initiation and Infant Mortality, summarized from The Lancet
- Social Media Resources on WIC Breastfeeding Support, summarized from FNS/USDA
- Report on Diet Quality among WIC Participants, summarized from FNS/USDA
- Issue Brief on Impact of Pregnancy Accommodations, summarized from A Better Balance
- Notice on Federal Travel While Breastfeeding, summarized from GSA
- State & Community News
- Committee Hearing on Breast Pump and Donor Human Milk Insurance Coverage, summarized from Massachusetts
- Equity Lens
- Public Comment Opportunity to Inform Review on Algorithms and Bias in Health Care, summarized from AHRQ
- Call for Nominations to Review Federal Policies, summarized from NASEM
- News & Views
denotes a USBC member organization news item denotes a USBC-affiliated constellation news item
Analysis of Fiscal Year 2022 Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill
The U.S. Breastfeeding Committee published a detailed analysis of the Senate Fiscal Year 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies and Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations report as it relates to infant feeding titled "Fiscal Year 2022 Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Report Released." In addition, USBC did an update and overhaul of the "Federal Appropriations for Breastfeeding" webpage to make it easier for the field to monitor and respond to opportunities for action to support human milk feeding through federal appropriations. The webpage features two new charts outlining relevant program and agency funding levels assigned at each step in the federal budget process.
The Senate Labor-HHS Report includes $10.5M for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Hospitals Promoting Breastfeeding program, $1M above the President's budget request, House bill, and fiscal year 2022 enacted level. This funding increase would have an important and lasting impact on the lactation field. Once both the House and Senate have passed the appropriations bills, they must be "conferenced" to work out any differences between the two versions. The lactation field will need to be ready to advocate to maintain the $10.5M funding level in the final conference report. Stay tuned for updates!
Thank you to the individuals and organizations that took action on this critical policy priority. None of this would be possible without you!
Special Section on the Build Back Better Act
The Build Back Better (BBB) agenda included several provisions that specifically address lactation and lactating individuals or would have a significant impact on infant feeding, including:
- Establishing a national paid family and medical leave insurance program
- Extending postpartum Medicaid coverage to one year after birth in every state
- Eligible provisions from the Black Maternal Health Momnibus to address maternal health inequities, including several bills endorsed by the USBC: the Social Determinants for Moms Act, Perinatal Workforce Act, and Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act.
Policymaker negotiations have been moving quickly. On Thursday, October 28, the White House released a framework for the Build Back Better (BBB) Act and formal legislative text was released shortly after. The framework included every eligible provision of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus as well as mandatory, permanent investments in yearlong postpartum Medicaid coverage in every state, but did not include the paid family & medical insurance leave provisions included in the original proposal. After facing significant backlash for this decision, on Wednesday, November 3, Speaker Pelosi released a Dear Colleague letter notifying members of Congress of amendments to the BBB, including the inclusion of paid family and medical insurance leave. Later that day, the House Rules Committee met to consider the changes and released an updated version of the bill which includes four weeks of paid family and medical leave. Late Thursday, November 4, the Rules Committee passed a rule to structure floor consideration of the Build Back Better Act. BBB will be considered under a closed rule, meaning there will be no floor amendments to the bill. A House vote may happen as early as today, but timing is still in flux.
Highlights from the field include:
- ABB: A Better Balance released a summary on the latest version of the paid leave provisions, titled "House Rules Committee Paid Leave Bill: What You Need to Know." In addition, A Better Balance launched an action tool titled "Tell Your Senators: Fight for Paid Leave in Build Back Better!"
- Congress: The Black Maternal Health Caucus released a publication titled "Support for the Historic Momnibus & Postpartum Medicaid Investments in the Build Back Better Act" featuring statements from organizations on the Black Maternal Health Momnibus.
- MomsRising: MomsRising launched a call line to make it easy for constituents to call their Senators and urge them to support paid family and medical leave in the Build Back Better Act. Text WECARE to 747464 and be connected to your U.S. Senators. Individuals can also contact legislators with the MomsRising "Tell Congress: Pass BIF and BBB with #paidleavetoo, Now!" action tool.
- NPWF: The National Partnership for Women & Families launched an action tool titled "Call Congress right now!". Constituents can use the tool to connect by phone with Senate offices to urge them to fight to maintain paid leave in the Build Back Better Act.
- Pl+US: Paid Leave for the United States launched an action tool titled "Email Your Senators: Save National Paid Family and Medical Leave." Individuals can use the tool to urge legislators to prioritize paid leave in the budget package.
- USBC: The U.S. Breastfeeding Committee updated the "Call on Congress to Support Paid Leave" action tool to reflect the latest Congressional action. Individuals are encouraged to use this action tool to educate Members of Congress on how access to paid leave impacts infant feeding outcomes.
- Various: The Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Family Values @ Work, VoteVets Action Fund, and ZERO TO THREE jointly released a publication titled "Military Families Need Paid Leave: 13 Military Families Share Their Paid Leave Stories." Each story highlights the impact paid family leave has on military families and calls for the need for a permanent, federal program.
- ZERO TO THREE: ZERO TO THREE published a summary document titled "What's in Build Back Better for Babies?" documenting how key provisions lay the foundation for strong, comprehensive family policy.
Build Back Better Act News & Views
The Century Foundation: "Four Ways the Build Back Better Act Could Improve Black Maternal Health"
The Intelligencer: "Investing in Care Infrastructure"
The New York Times: "The World ‘Has Found a Way to Do This’: The U.S. Lags on Paid Leave"
Analysis of U.S. Breastfeeding Initiation and Infant Mortality, summarized from The Lancet
The Lancet published an article titled "Breastfeeding and Post-perinatal Infant Deaths in the United States, A National Prospective Cohort Analysis." The authors analyzed linked birth−death certificates for over 3 million U.S. births that occurred in 2017 to evaluate whether the benefits of breastfeeding on reducing infant mortality is evident in the United States. Through their analysis, the authors concluded that breastfeeding initiation is significantly associated with reduced odds of post-perinatal infant deaths in multiple racial and ethnic groups within the U.S. population. The analysis revealed a 26% reduction in odds for overall post-perinatal deaths associated with the initiation of breastfeeding.
Social Media Resources on WIC Breastfeeding Support, summarized from FNS/USDA
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service released sample social media posts and graphics as part of their "WIC Breastfeeding Support" social media campaign. The graphics include seasonal and holiday-themed posts, as well as evergreen content.
Report on Diet Quality among WIC Participants, summarized from FNS/USDA
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service released a report titled "Indicators of Diet Quality, Nutrition, and Health for Americans by Program Participation Status, 2011–2016: Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Report." The report uses 2011–2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data to examine relationships between reported WIC participation and outcomes, including, diet quality, indicators of nutrition and health, food consumption patterns, and nutrient intakes among 1- to 4-year-old children.
Issue Brief on Impact of Pregnancy Accommodations, summarized from A Better Balance
A Better Balance released an issue brief titled "The Pandemic & The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act." The report examines the potential impact of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) as one critical solution to keep women attached to the workforce and healthy during pregnancy and the post-partum period. In addition, A Better Balance hosted the PWFA Day of Action on Tuesday, November 2, to call on the Senate to bring the PWFA to the Senate floor for a vote without delay. Individuals can build on this momentum by contacting their Senators with the "Tell the Senate to Pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act" action tool.
Notice on Federal Travel While Breastfeeding, summarized from GSA
The Office of Government-wide Policy, General Services Administration published a notice titled "Federal Travel Regulation (FTR); Applicability of the Federal Travel Regulation Part 301-13 to Employees Who Are Nursing." The notice provides guidance to federal agencies subject to the Federal Travel Regulation to clarify that “special needs” travel may include reasonable accommodations for employees who breastfeed. Reasonable accommodations in these cases may include allowing a spouse, nanny, or other attendant to accompany the employee on the trip at Government expense in order to watch the child in between the employee's reasonable break periods to breastfeed.
State & Community News
Committee Hearing on Breast Pump and Donor Human Milk Insurance Coverage, summarized from Massachusetts
On Tuesday, November 9, at 11 a.m. ET, the Massachusetts Legislature's Joint Committee on Financial Services will hold a virtual hearing on a series of bills related to health insurance, including An Act relative to human donor milk coverage (H. 1106) and An Act relative to hospital grade breast pumps (H. 1215). Mothers' Milk Bank Northeast published a blog post titled "Action Alert: Massachusetts Hearing on Donor Milk Insurance Coverage November 9" with information on participating in the hearing. Individuals and organizations can submit written testimony to the Committee in support of either bill.
Public Comment Opportunity to Inform Review on Algorithms and Bias in Health Care, summarized from AHRQ
The Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is preparing to conduct an evidence review titled "Impact of Healthcare Algorithms on Racial Disparities in Health and Healthcare." As part of the project, AHRQ is reviewing published research on how healthcare algorithms and algorithm-informed decision tools can introduce racial or ethnic bias into care; how the use of algorithms affect racial/ethnic disparities in access to and quality of care and health outcomes; strategies to avoid bias in algorithms; and standards for the development of equitable algorithms. AHRQ is accepting public comments on the key questions that will inform this evidence review. The deadline to provide comments on the key questions is Monday, November 15.
Call for Nominations to Review Federal Policies, summarized from NASEM
The National Academies of Science, Engineering, Medicine issued a call for nominations related to a "Review of Federal Policies that Contribute to Racial and Ethnic Health Inequities." A NASEM ad hoc committee will provide an evidence-based, non-partisan analysis of federal policies that contribute to racial and ethnic health inequities, including those policies that impact the social determinants of health, as well as potential solutions. The committee is seeking approximately 15 volunteer experts from a variety of fields. The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, November 19.
News & Views
Delivering Health podcast episode: "Combatting Racism in Birth and Breastfeeding with Kimberly Seals Allers"
Freedom & Captivity podcast episode: "'We’re Creating the Next Generation of Broken People’: Parenting and Prison"
HHS press release: "CMS Extends Medicaid Postpartum Coverage in New Jersey for Over 8,000 People"
The Milk Bank blog post: "The Milk Bank is Expanding Across Kentucky to Help Bluegrass Babies in Need"
NIH media release: "NIH to study long-term effects of COVID-19 in pregnancy"
SHRM blog post: "House Passes Bill to Ensure Breastfeeding Rights for More Working Moms"