Is The Pope Praying For Obamacare?

It’s always news when the Pope publicly encourages women to breastfeed their babies in the Sistine Chapel. He does this often, and did it yet again this past Sunday.

During his homily, the pope likened the word of God to “substantial food,” that would help children grow well. He took the opportunity to tell the mothers “give your children milk,” and then repeated his explicit invitation from the same occasion last year for mothers to feed their children, “also now, if they are crying for hunger, nurse them.”

Clearly, the Pope gets the importance of breastfeeding and the importance of doing everything you can not to hamper the act.

And speaking about acts, the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, did a lot to bolster breastfeeding in this country and it’s unclear what will happen if the act is repealed. It’s surprising that more women’s groups haven’t focused on this issue — there is nothing like the zeal of breastfeeding mommies.

Here’s what the Act did, just in case you weren’t aware:

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Affordable Care Act”) amended section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) to require employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk. Employers are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk. The break time requirement became effective when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010.

It also required that insurance companies include breastfeeding support as part of coverage.

This from

  • Health insurance plans must provide breastfeeding support, counseling, and equipment for the duration of breastfeeding. These services may be provided before and after birth.
  • Your health insurance plan must cover the cost of a breast pump. It may be either a rental unit or a new one you’ll keep.

There has been talk about cherry picking the “good and bad” parts of Obamacare, but so many of the provisions of the Act focused on improving the “health and financial security” of women, as the National Partnership for Women and Families so aptly put it in this report.

In a statement released today, the Partnerships president Debra L. Ness said:

“The U.S. Senate continued its march toward repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and dismantling the Medicaid program today by passing a budget resolution that furthers Republican leaders’ plan to destroy the greatest advance for women’s health in a generation.  Republicans in Congress are hell bent on taking away health care from tens of millions of people without offering a comprehensive, transparent or vetted replacement plan.”

While some prayers from the Pope wouldn’t hurt, we may not want to rely on divine intervention to ensure such benefits continue.