Obamacare comes to the White House — in the form of a lactation room

March 8, 2013
baby
Even this baby is surprised about the breast-feeding situation in the White House!

Among the health-care law's myriad new requirements, one requires all employers with more than 50 workers to provide a breast-feeding room for any lactating mothers. This room has to be private and separate from the bathroom, where tight spaces can make lactation tricky work.

That requirement stretches to all employers with more than 50 workers. And as Yahoo!'s Rachel Rose Hartman learns, it covers the very place where that requirement originated: The White House.

Except, in Hartman's situation, things were a bit tricky — she's a reporter who works at the White House but not for the White House. That means that Yahoo! would, as the Affordable Care Act is written, be the one responsible for providing a lactation space.

"I was told the absence of a lactation room for the press had been a concern for the White House but that no current solution existed," she recounts in the piece for The Ticket. "Under the president's law, the onus is on my employer to provide a space to pump."

Hartman's situation was ultimately resolved, but not because the Affordable Care Act required any changes:

Finally, on January 25, Henry announced the WHCA had brokered an agreement with the Christian Broadcasting Network and CBC/Radio-Canada to use the booth the two news organizations share as a pumping space.

It has changed my life.

Each morning I email out the estimated times I would like to use the booth and we work out a schedule.

Women's health groups expect that this part of the Affordable Care Act will actually increase the numbers of women who breast-feed. Right now, employed mothers breast-feed at a rate 15 percent below that of unemployed mothers. Combining the required access to lactation rooms with required insurance coverage of breast pumps — a subject I wrote about here — the Institute for Women's Policy Research expects the breast-feeding rate to rise from 44.5 to 47.5 percent due to these changes.

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Ezra Klein · March 8, 2013