The State Senate gave final approval Tuesday to a measure that...

The State Senate gave final approval Tuesday to a measure that would require insurance companies to cover the cost of donor breast milk for newborns in need, even after they leave the hospital. Credit: AP / Hans Pennink

ALBANY — The State Legislature has passed a measure that would require insurance companies to cover the cost of donor breast milk for newborns in need, even after they leave the hospital.

The legislation expands current law, which requires coverage for the cost of donor milk for an infant, often born prematurely, but only while the baby is in the hospital. The State Senate’s final legislative approval on Tuesday is seen as a critical measure to help newborns who medically require the highly nutritious milk when their mothers have difficulty providing it. The Assembly unanimously passed the measure on May 23.

Supporters of the bill say it will provide more infants a healthy start to their lives and will be especially important to lower-income families.

“Breast milk is the optimal form of nutrient,” said Assemb. Michaelle Solages (D-Valley Stream), a sponsor of the measure. “If they don’t get breast milk, they are more likely to get bad diseases.”

The bill will now go to Gov. Kathy Hochul for her signature into law or her veto. Hochul has made prenatal and infant care part of her priorities.

The bill, also sponsored by Sen. Brad Hoylman-Siegel (D-Manhattan), states that donor milk “has become a necessary, desirable, and routine option to support preterm infants.”

Failure to provide donor milk when the infant’s mother can’t provide the nutrients puts infants in need at risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, according to the bill. The life-threatening disease has a mortality rate as high as 50% for newborns less than four weeks old, according to the National Institutes of Health. The illness is an intestinal inflammation that can lead to bacteria causing cell death in the colon and intestine.

Health insurers, however, said the mandate will be costly.

The memo of opposition submitted to legislators by the New York Health Plan Association said insurers are moving to treatment plans and payments based on “improved outcomes” that can be documented. “Mandates on plans to cover specific services and treatments without any parameters or requirement to demonstrate improved outcomes substantially slows progress toward that goal and perpetuates a system that provides unnecessary care and services, driving up the cost of coverage for individuals and small businesses,” the memo said.

Assemb. Mary Beth Walsh (R-Ballston) questioned the unlimited time under the bill for which insurance companies would have to cover donor breast milk. In a brief debate, Solanges explained in a brief floor debate that the continued coverage would require approval by an array of health care professional.

Advocates rally for congestion pricing … Stony Brook film festival … Patchougue-Medford library annex opens Credit: Newsday

Anti-vaping funds for LI ... Advocates rally for congestion pricing ... Final T20 match ... 90-year-old volunteer

Advocates rally for congestion pricing … Stony Brook film festival … Patchougue-Medford library annex opens Credit: Newsday

Anti-vaping funds for LI ... Advocates rally for congestion pricing ... Final T20 match ... 90-year-old volunteer

Latest videos

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME