National WIC Association

Weekly WIC Policy Update

July 9, 2018

National WIC Association Condemns U.S. Opposition to Breastfeeding Resolution
A resolution to promote breastfeeding was proposed by Ecuador at the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly in May. The United States surprised fellow delegations by asking for the removal of the statement “protect, promote, and support breastfeeding” from the resolution and threatened Ecuador with trade sanctions and withdrawal of military aid if the proposal was not dropped, according to a New York Times piece published over the weekend. A Health and Human Services spokesperson said “the resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children,” in an email to the New York Times. The otherwise widely popular resolution was approved after Russia stepped in and admonished the United States for pushing around a small country on “an issue that is really important for the rest of the world.”

WIC promotes breastfeeding as the optimal infant feeding choice. Decades of research have demonstrated the benefits associated with breastfeeding, including reduced risk of infections, asthma, obesity, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The National WIC Association condemns the US delegation’s opposition to the breastfeeding resolution and supports human milk as the best infant nutrition for the first year of life and beyond with the introduction of solid foods at the appropriate age. Read our full breastfeeding statement – which is in line with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine – on our website.

Farm Bill Process Proceeds to Conference
As Congress returns from recess this week, the farm bill process is set to advance as both chambers decide on which members will participate in a conference committee to merge the House and Senate bills. The two bills have stark differences, particularly in the nutrition title, which authorizes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). For more background, you can read NWA’s summaries of the Senate and House bills.

Justice Department Delays Reuniting Children Separated from Families at the Border
Late last month, a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to reunify young children under five with their parents by July 10 and all minors with their parents by July 26. The administration is now requesting that these deadlines be extended. So far, the judge has not granted the administration’s requests. NWA opposes the separation of children from their parents at the border, as well as any detention of children. We support the rapid reunification of separated families, and the use of alternatives to detention. Read our full statement on these issues here.

Trump Administration Withholds Billions in Insurance Payments for High Risk Patients
Over the weekend, the Trump administration announced the suspension of a program that provides billions of dollars of risk adjustment payments to insurers. Risk adjustment payments stabilize health insurance markets by providing payments to insurers that cover high-risk patients with costly health conditions. Risk adjustments incentivize insurance companies to insure people with chronic health conditions in addition to typically low-cost healthy individuals. Without these payments, insurers are not protected from big financial losses incurred while insuring high-cost patients. According to America’s Health Insurance Plans, “This decision will have serious consequences for millions of consumers who get their coverage through small businesses or buy coverage on their own.” The Trump administration decided to freeze risk adjustment payments because of a ruling in New Mexico that found the formula for payments was flawed. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services stated it will appeal this decision and is hoping for a “prompt resolution to prevent more adverse impacts on Americans who receive their insurance in the individual and small group markets.” If the administration continues to withhold these payments, this will likely result in increased premiums, reduced coverage options for small businesses and consumers, and potential consequences for individuals with higher risk seeking health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace.