HAP's Latest News

Pa. Bill to Ensure Infant Access to Donor Milk Reaches Governor’s Desk

November 17, 2023

State lawmakers this week unanimously passed a bill that supports critical care for low birth-weight babies and other medically compromised infants.

Senate Bill 500, also known as “Owen’s Law,” requires Medical Assistance coverage for medically prescribed pasteurized donor human milk in inpatient and outpatient settings for medically fragile infants under the age of 12 months. The bill, sponsored by Senator Michele Brooks (R-Greenville), passed through both chambers earlier this week and was presented to the governor on Wednesday.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Background:  In very low birth-weight babies and other medically compromised infants, pasteurized donor human milk helps to protect against serious health complications while also increasing rates of maternal breastfeeding.
  • Key components:  The legislation increases access to medically prescribed pasteurized donor human milk for medically compromised infants who do not have access to their own mothers’ milk.
    • The bill requires coverage and reimbursement by public payors for both inpatient and outpatient infants.
  • The details:  To qualify for coverage, the child's mother must be medically or physically unable to produce maternal breast milk in an amount needed to meet the child's needs.
    • The donor milk also must be obtained from a milk bank licensed in Pennsylvania or through a hospital licensure process in accordance with state law.

In a letter this month, HAP expressed support for the law and highlighted the importance of this lifesaving resource at a critical time in their care.

“Representing hospitals and health systems across the commonwealth, our charge is to support equitable access to care for all Pennsylvanians across their lifespan,” the HAP letter said. “SB 500 effectuates policy that would achieve this mission by increasing access to life-changing and lifesaving care for some of our most vulnerable patients, medically compromised infants.”

Additional information about the bill is available online.

For more information, contact Heather Tyler, vice president, state legislative advocacy.