Ways and Means Committee considers pump bill

By Naomi Bromberg Bar-Yam, PhD

An Act Improving Access to Breast Pumps, S600 / H967, has been reported favorably out of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, and referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.  Ways and Means committees are charged with reviewing and making recommendations for government budgets.

The committees this bill has passed through until now have been joint committees of both houses of the legislature. The Senate and the House of Representatives each has its own Ways and Means Committee.

Next steps with Ways and Means:

  1. The Senate Ways and Means Committee will consider the bill.
  2. If they recommend it, the bill will go before the full Senate for a vote.
  3. Then the House Ways and Means Committee will consider it.
  4. If they recommend it, the bill will go before the House of Representatives for a vote.

The bill must pass both Senate and House to become law. To become law in this session, it must pass both bodies before the end of July. If the bill passes in the Senate but not the House before July, it does not need to be reintroduced in the Senate next session.

Unlike other committees, there is no deadline for the Ways and Means Committee to report out on bills. They are currently considering many urgent bills that will take time to discuss, including the budget, housing, and others.

Write to Ways and Means now

Once again, we ask you to show your support for equitable access to high-quality multi-user pumps for mothers and their sick hospitalized babies. Please send your letters of support to the chairs of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, (emails below) cc’ing your own legislators and the MBC Advocacy Committee. Note that Senator Friedman is Vice Chair of Ways and Means and also Chair of Health Care Financing, so she is familiar with the bill. You can send the same letter you sent to the Financial Services and Health Care Financing Committees, or tweak it, as you prefer. If you did not have the chance to send a letter at that time, please add your support now.

Here, we explain how to do that and what to say.

Testimony Basics

  • Please submit your testimony (a short letter or email) right away, since we do not know when this committee will make its decision. Your testimony is important even if your legislator is not on the committee. Committees are accountable to all citizens of Massachusetts.
  • Email your testimony to the committee chair and vice chair:
  • Please cc the MBC Advocacy Committee for our records and follow-up.
  • Please cc your legislators, so they know this is important to you when it comes before a committee they are on, and for a vote on the House/Senate floor.
  • Your voice matters. Letters from many people communicate that this bill is important to a lot of constituents, making it harder to ignore.
  • Keep it short, 1-2 pages. No one will read more than that.
  • Testimony from clinicians, lactation professionals, researchers, and parents are all crucial to creating a full picture for the committee.

What should I say in my letter?

  • Which bill are you writing about and what is your position?
    • S600 / H967 An Act Improving Access to Breast Pumps
    • Support the bill.
  • Introduce yourself.
    • Who are you? Name, location, qualifications (letters after your name, if relevant), workplace (if relevant).
    • Why are you writing about this bill? Personal experience? Expertise in the field?
  • Why is access to high-quality multi-user pumps at home important?
    • For families, what is your personal story about the difference having, or not having, access to such a pump at home made for you and your child?
    • For professionals, what is your experience with your patients and clients regarding such access?

Other important points 

We also want to educate legislators about equity and disparities, so if you are able, please include points like these:

  • Health disparities, particularly in perinatal health, are a national and statewide priority, with good reason. This bill is about equitable access to health- and life-saving equipment.
    • Black babies are twice as likely to be born premature and 2-1/2 times more likely to die in infancy than their white counterparts. Black families are less likely to be able to afford monthly rental fees for high quality pumps, replacement parts, and lactation consultation for proper fitting, ongoing support, and education.
    • No doctor would consider using an inferior respirator for a patient based on income or insurance coverage. Similarly, high-quality multi-user pumps are essential equipment for mothers separated from the sick and preterm babies.
  • Find more talking points in our prior blog about providing testimony.

Template for Ways and Means letter

If you wish, you can download and personalize this template for your testimony.

On behalf of families with fragile babies, thank you for taking a few minutes to make your voice heard! 

Blog editor: Ann Marie Lindquist

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