Lawmakers Call to Fund Donor Breast Milk for Premature Babies
As they have with several measures that have bubbled up in recent weeks, lawmakers are reviving a bill that was vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year with instructions that it should be a part of the budget package. Both GOP Sen. Kemp Hannon and Democratic Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who head their respective health committees, on Monday urged passage of a measure that would allow Medicaid to cover the cost of donated breast milk, which they said can be a life-saving nutrient to premature infants who develop necrotizing enterocolitis, a serious intestinal ailment that can hit such babies.
Boriana Parvez, M.D., said, “Donor milk is a precious gift of life to the tiniest and most fragile newborn babies. It is the safest and the most natural way to nourish them when their mother’s milk is in insufficient quantity. We often say that having a preemie in the NICU is like being on a roller coaster ride but without the thrill. Having to worry about the additional cost of donor milk only further hinders the mothers of preemies’ efforts to care for their tiny babies and produce milk. As a physician caring for sick premature infants, I feel that donor milk should be covered by insurance and I stand behind our politicians who are trying to make it a reality.” Shetal Shah, M.D., FAAP, said, “Offering donor breast milk to New York State’s tiniest babies through Medicaid reduces a significant health disparity.”
Boriana Parvez, M.D., associate professor of clinical pediatrics
Shetal I. Shah, M.D., professor of pediatrics