National WIC Association

November 23, 2021

Sens. Gillibrand, Marshall Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Remote WIC Services

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Today, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) introduced the More Options to Develop and Enhance Remote Nutrition in WIC Act (MODERN WIC Act). Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, WIC providers have been able to waive in-person application requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. The MODERN WIC Act would permanently revise WIC’s in-person application requirements to allow for video or telephone certifications while obtaining relevant health assessment data within 90 days. The bill would also allow for remote benefit issuance and enhance annual investments in WIC technology.

 

Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President & CEO of the National WIC Association (NWA), issued the following statement: 

 

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, frontline WIC providers rapidly innovated to implement remote services without disruption to participating families. The increased flexibility and convenience of phone or video appointments resolved longstanding barriers to access, such as parents needing to take time off work and arrange for transportation to a clinic site. Since parents must reapply each year as their children grow up, the in-person certification requirement had led to diminishing reach among WIC-eligible toddlers over the past decade as the evidence of WIC’s positive impacts on child health has only grown. As a result of COVID-era waivers, WIC providers are reporting a startling shift in prior trends, with an 8% increase in child participation nationwide since February 2020.

 

“The MODERN WIC Act recognizes the flexibility provided during COVID-19 must be strategically sustained to enhance access to WIC’s quality nutrition services while strengthening the program’s public health character. The MODERN WIC Act lays out a smart, appropriate balance that will permit ongoing video and telephone certifications, leverage technology to streamline application requirements, and open the door to effective collaborations with healthcare providers that will consolidate in-person visits, reduce duplicative testing, and provide coordinated care to families with young children. This bill empowers WIC providers to do what they do best: support families in accessing better nutrition.

 

“In an increasingly digital age, WIC families should be able to access program services in a manner comparable to healthcare settings. This bill will tap into and routinely fund new technologies and current innovation at the state and local level that will permit online applications and scheduling, provide participant portals to access health data, integrate nutrition education into online or mobile platforms, and remotely load benefits to a participant’s EBT card. In crafting the MODERN WIC Act, Senators Gillibrand and Marshall brought their decades of experience with WIC and the healthcare system to advance thoughtful, forward-looking solutions that will make meaningful differences for families and enhance WIC’s public health impact. We applaud their leadership in championing this bill’s important provisions.”