COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio families are looking for relief when it comes to the baby formula shortage.
Now, a state senator and new mother is looking for a way to make human donor milk more accessible to families who need it the most.
“It’s essentially a lifeline for babies who are born preterm or have critical conditions,” said Ohio Sen. Tina Maharath.
She said Senate Bill 314 is inspired by the pain families are feeling during the baby formula shortage.
The bill calls for health coverage plans to cover medically necessary donor milk costs for families in Ohio.
Maharath welcomed a new baby just 12 days ago and knows what families are going through.
“My baby, unfortunately, would not latch on and so another option was to go ahead and pump, but I also have lactation issues so it’s either formula or both and with formula having a shortage as it is at this time, I have limited options available,” she said.
The legislation calls for the milk to be prescribed and covers a range of high-priority needs like a parent’s low milk production or premature birth.
Maharath said accessibility is important even beyond the shortage — donor milk can be expensive.
“On average, donor milk costs about $4 to $5 an ounce, which can quickly add up,” she said.
OhioHealth operates a mothers’ milk bank which distributes donated milk to hospitals.
It says the formula shortage has impacted donations.
“We have had donors calling us or potential donors calling us and asking to donate, willing to go on pumping even if they were at the end of their lactation journey, with the goal of being able to provide some milk for babies,” said Chris Smith, outreach and operation coordinator at the OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank.
Maharath believes the bill could help now, but also in the future.
“I’d like to provide another option available for the other newborn parents, as well as myself, to think about and consider so that way, we are not stuck in a limbo trying to figure out what’s next,” she said.
Senate Bill 314 is currently in the Senate health committee.