State Rep. Jillian Gilchrest of West Hartford was joined by representatives of healthcare organizations to call for action to reduce diaper insecurity.
By Ronni Newton
Diaper insecurity is a very real thing, and access to this basic necessity has a health impact for both mothers and children, state Rep. Jillian Gilchrest said Tuesday as she was joined with representatives of the Diaper Bank of Connecticut, Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA), and Nurturing Families Network at Day Kimball Healthcare to advocate for covering diapers through Medicaid.
A public hearing had been scheduled Tuesday for House Bill #6587, which seeks to provide Medicaid coverage, to the extent permissible under federal law, for diapers. The hearing was canceled due to internet problems at the capitol, and will be rescheduled.
Gilchrest, House chair of the Human Services Committee, said nearly one in three families struggle to afford diapers to keep their babies clean, dry, and healthy. Diaper insecurity is also associated with postpartum depressive symptoms and high rates of diaper rash for infants, she added.
“When a family lacks access to diapers it impacts their health and well-being,” Gilchrest said. “We have an opportunity to expand access and improve health conditions for a mom and her child. I am excited to see how many more families we can support by having Medicaid cover diapers.”
“Since 2004, the Diaper Bank of Connecticut has been leading efforts to increase access to diapers for families in need across the state,” Executive Director Janet Stolfi Alfano said. “We’ve distributed well over 30 million diapers and yet there is even more unmet need. Ensuring diapers are covered under Medicaid is a logical next step, given the significant negative health outcomes and associated costs related to not having an adequate supply.”
“Even with their tremendous work they’re only scratching the surface,” Gilchrest said. Making diapers an eligible medical expense for coverage through Medicaid could expand the reach, and could help Connecticut build upon the work of community organizations and programs like Diaper Connections. That network was launched through a partnership between CHA, the state’s 27 acute care hospitals, the Diaper Bank of Connecticut, and the Connecticut Department of Housing, and works to “improve the health of families by preventing adverse maternal and child health conditions associated with diaper need.”
Selina A. Osei, director of Health Equity and Community Engagement at CHA, said Diaper Connections launched two months ago and has already provided diapers to more than 500 infants and 100 toddlers.
“More can be done to further increase access,” she said in a statement. “We strongly support this forward-looking proposal to address diaper insecurity through Medicaid coverage for diapers thereby advancing maternal and child health across the state.”
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