Thanks to a measure in the new 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), expected to become law before Christmas, Tricare will soon be required to provide breastfeeding supplies and support to new moms.
Currently the law governing Tricare is silent on breastfeeding and lactation support issues. And while a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which governs healthcare for most Americans, requires that breastfeeding supplies such as pumps and support such as lactation consultants be covered, Tricare is exempt from that law.
Right now Tricare only covers “hospital grade breast pumps for premature infants who meet certain criteria,” according to their website. Tricare does not cover lactation consultants or help outside whatever assistance you receive while in the hospital giving birth or through your local military treatment facility (MTF).
But the new NDAA changes all that. Now, according to what will soon become law, Tricare must cover “breastfeeding support, supplies (including breast pumps and associated equipment), and counseling … as appropriate during pregnancy and the postpartum period.”
That language was included to bring Tricare in line with the ACA on this issue, officials said. “As appropriate” is meant to mean that if the equipment prescribed by or referred from her doctor, a woman can have it.
However, what we don’t yet know is how Tricare will implement this change. Under the ACA a supplied breast pump can be electric or manual. That’s a big difference when it’s time to pump. And we do not yet know which Tricare will be covering.
Tricare officials did not respond to a request for comment on just how the agency plans to implement this soon to be ordered change, so we’ll have to wait until it becomes law to hear the details on that.