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Health Care Bill Includes Protection for Nursing Mothers

obama_children_s_health_dclj107The New York Times “Well” blog has uncovered lots of little known provisions in the health care bill, including one that’s going to be outstanding news for working and nursing mothers and their advocates.

According to the blog, employers are now required to provide breaks for nursing mothers to express milk as often as neccessary, and better yet, to provide space for them to do so that isn’t a bathroom. Employers with less than 50 employees are exempt. Still, I can imagine this being a huge boon to women who work in a retail store, for example, or any other place where most of their workday is interacting with the public and they might be limited to a single 15-minute break per shift without this protection in place.

Another provision in the bill provides a whopping $1.5 billion — that’s with a B — to programs that send nurses into the homes of pregnant teens both during their pregnancies and for a few years afterward. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the parenting and coping skills learned in these programs can help cut child abuse and neglect by nearly half. That $1.5 billion funding injection is the biggest ever for these sorts of programs.

That may come in handy, too, because the bill also restores $50 million in funding for abstinence-only sex education, albeit with a catch that states have to match funding.

Also of note:

Your W-2 form next year will have a line explaining how much your employer spends on health benefits for you. The idea is so that people can have a clear idea of how much health care actually costs.

Starting in 2011, fewer items will be eligible for reimbursement from flexible spending accounts. No more vitamins or over-the counter drugs, unless they’ve been prescribed by a doctor.

And in case you’re a tanorexic, get ready to open your wallet — indoor tanning will now incur a 10 percent excise tax.

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