TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A bill passed by the Florida Legislature to allow use of Medicaid funding to buy human breast milk is now law.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1770, introduced by Sen. Lauren Book, D-Broward, on April 6, along with 41 other bills sent to him after the most recent legislative session’s end. Book also sponsored legislation signed by DeSantis to make diapers tax free for Floridians in the coming fiscal year.
SB 1770 updates state statutes to allow for the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration to pay for donor human milk bank services with Medicaid service as an option of payment, depending on some conditions.
Furthermore, it authorizes AHCA to ask for federal permission to do so, and adds donor human milk bank services to the list of authorized Medicaid services eligible for reimbursement on a “fee-for-service basis.” Milk bank services will also be added to the list of minimum benefits required to be covered by Medicaid plans in Florida.
Under the new law, which sailed through each chamber of the legislature on unanimous votes, AHCA would be allowed to pay for donor human milk and human milk products “derived therefrom for inpatient use for which a licensed physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant or dietitian has issued an order for an infant who is medically or physically unable to receive maternal breast milk or to breastfeed or whose mother is medically or physically unable to produce maternal breast milk or breastfeed.”
In order for a baby to qualify for the coverage, they must weigh at most 3.96 pounds, have a congenital or acquired condition, or be at “high risk for developing a feeding intolerance, necrotizing enterocolitis, or an infection” or otherwise have a medical need for a diet of human milk.
With coverage approved, AHCA will allow Medicaid funds from the Florida Medicaid program to be used to reimburse milk services for hospital inpatient use. The coverage would be intended for infants who are either unable to receive maternal breast milk or whose mother is unable to produce maternal breast milk or breastfeed, and meets specified eligibility requirements set by the new law, according to legislative analysis.
The legislature’s review of SB 1770 notes that it would be of help to mothers with infants who are born prematurely, who “are sometimes unable to produce milk because their bodies are not ready, they too are sick, or they are affected by the stress of having their premature infant in intensive care.”
The milk used for the services that the law allows for reimbursement would be donated milk from other nursing mothers, and is intended to “provide an option for infants who are unable to receive adequate nutrition from their mother’s own milk” or from formula.
For the law’s allowance of Medicaid funding to be implemented, AHCA must ask for approval from the federal government. Now law, the legislation takes effect on July 1.