It’s a necessity for a baby, but diapers are expensive. That’s why lawmakers are proposing using Medicaid to cover the cost of diapers for infants and toddlers.
Supporters of the legislation say it will prevent diseases associated with infrequent diaper changing, such as urinary tract infections and diaper dermatitis, but opponents, including Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration says it’s too expensive.
Department of Social Services Commissioner Andrea Barton Reeves expected to tell the Human Services Committee Tuesday that while her agency appreciates the intent of this bill the administration can’t support the significant cost.
The public hearing on the legislation was canceled due to Internet problems and will be held at a future date.
Supporters of the proposal said that nearly one in three families struggle to afford diapers and that diaper insecurity is associated with postpartum depression. They say it will actually cut down on the cost of emergency room visits due to the lack of diapers.
“As inflation has impacted all families, parents often need to choose between food for their families and diapers for their child – a decision no parent should need to make,” said Laura Shulman Cordeira, director of Community Health and Wellness and Program Administrator for Nurse-Family Partnership at RVNAhealth. “Without access to affordable diapers, children wear diapers for longer durations of time, which leads to increased risk of medical conditions such as urinary tract infections and diaper rash.”
Supporters say charities holding diaper drives don’t make a dent in the need.
Barton Reeves said the governor’s budget continues to include $700,000 in annual funding for the provision of diapers to low-income families, which the Department accomplishes through a contractual agreement with the Connecticut Diaper Bank. She said it currently provides coverage of diapers under Medicaid for children ages 3 years and older when the diapers are medically necessary in the management of incontinence associated with a medical condition and based on the individual needs for each member.
The Connecticut Hospital Association supports the legislation.
“The percentage of families nationally reporting diaper need has been consistently estimated to hover around 30%,” the association said in written testimony. “Diapers are not a covered product under benefit programs like Women Infants and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), yet they are a basic material need necessary for infant, child, and maternal health and an important structural factor related to a family’s ability to participate in the workforce.”