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MomsRising Responds to Bill O’Reilly

Guest Post by MomsRising

Last week, Moms Rising sent around a letter in response to Bill O’Reilly’s inflammatory commentary on the news that the Affordable Care Act’s new guidelines require new health insurance plans to cover women’s preventive services such as well-woman visits, breastfeeding support, domestic violence screening, and contraception without charging a co-payment, co-insurance, or a deductible. We thought midwives might enjoy reading their counterpoint, packed with facts, below.

Are nursing mothers and "breastfeeding stuff" a threat to the lagging US economy?! Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly thinks so.

During his show last week, O’Reilly blurted: "Now the federal government is ordering the health insurance companies to pay for all breast feeding stuff, all female birth control stuff, all preventative measures for doctors for ladies that go in. What do you think that’s gonna do? That’s going to inhibit hiring even more!"[i]

Talk about being in a “spin zone!” Supporting breastfeeding "inhibits hiring"!? Not so!

O'Reilly is flat-out misinformed.Study after study shows that allowing women to breastfeed benefits our economy and saves our businesses money.[ii] There are huge savings involved. One study by the American Academy of Pediatrics has estimated that we could save $13 billion per year in health care costs if 90% of women were able to nurse their babies for at least six months as recommended by doctors.[iii] These added savings for businesses would spark hiring, not inhibit it.

What is REALLY going on anyway? The Department of Health & Human Services recently announced that patient co-pays for services related to breastfeeding, contraceptives, and critical health screenings for women will be eliminated beginning in August 2012 (See below for more details about what’s covered!).[iv]

This is terrific news! These new guidelines will save women—and their employers—money by encouraging early detectionrather than costly treatments for illnesses that could have been prevented in the first place.These changes will also reduce the financial barriers for women who choose to breastfeed, a practice that can significantly reduce our country’s overall health care spending due to improvements in child health.[v]

Businesses themselves have found that supporting their employees who decide to breastfeed saves them money in reduced health care costs. For example, the insurance company CIGNA found that the 350 employees who participated in their breastfeeding support program saved the company $240,000 in health care expenses and $60,000 in absenteeism. Another insurance company, Mutual of Omaha, found that the health care costs for newborns were three times lower for babies whose mothers participated in their maternity and lactation support program, which resulted in $115,881 of savings in their health care costs.[vi]

We owe it to nursing mothers and businesses to continue to support mothers who choose to breastfeed.

Starting in August 2012, insurers will be required to provide the following preventive health measures without co-pays:

  • Breastfeeding counseling and equipment—making trained breastfeeding counselors available to all women during pregnancy     and after they give   birth and making breastfeeding equipment available to those who want it.
  • Screening for gestational diabetes
  • Screening for sexually transmitted infections
  • Comprehensive contraceptive care so that women, if they wish, can plan and time pregnancies to protect their health
  • Well-woman preventive care visits
  • Screening and counseling for intimate partner violence

Read more information here

For more information on the new preventive health guidelines, check out this blogpost from Secretary Sebelius.

*Tell Bill O'Reilly and Fox News to stop the spin and set the record straight on the facts about breastfeeding, and to stop scapegoating breastfeeding moms who are saving the country money!

We’ll deliver your signatures, along with the real facts about the Department of Health & Human Services’ new guidelines relating to breastfeeding directly to Bill O’Reilly and his bosses at Fox News. The female viewers of Fox News deserve to hear what's really going on with their health insurance coverage.

Posted 8/18/2011 9:31:07 AM



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