Senator Jeff Merkley gets breast-feeding clause in health care bill

MSNBC just put out the article, “Seven items you didn’t know were in the Senate Bill.” At #1, was Senator Jeff Merkley’s nursing mandate. Also listed is millions for helping teens become an adult (see below):

Nursing mothers get a break: Employers would be required to provide an unpaid “reasonable break time for nursing mothers” in the first year after giving birth. Women would be provided a private place, other than a bathroom, to use a breast pump. The provision exempts companies with fewer than 50 workers if the requirement would impose “an undue hardship,” a determination left to the employer to make. This provision was inserted by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who in June introduced the Breastfeeding Promotion Act. Merkley is promoting breast-feeding partly as a way to cut health costs. He cites studies showing breast-fed children have a lower rate of disease and illness in their lifetime. But employers see yet another expense. “Every additional mandated rule further burdens employers who are struggling to keep jobs afloat,” says Neil Trautwein, vice president of the National Retail Federation. Twenty-four states already have protections for nursing mothers in the workplace, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. “
Learning to be an adult:
Being a teenager is tough. The Senate wants to help with a provision allocating $400 million from 2010 to 2015 to help teens make the transition to adulthood. The money goes to states primarily to set up sex education programs. But the money can also be used for “adult preparation” programs that promote “positive self esteem, relationship dynamics, friendships, dating, romantic involvement, marriage and family interaction.” In addition, the programs can teach financial literacy and other skills such as goal setting, decision-making and stress management. About $10 million of funding would go to “innovative youth pregnancy prevention strategies” in areas of the country with high teen birth rates. The Personal Responsibility Education for Adulthood Training funding was approved as an amendment in the Senate Finance Committee. Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine joined all the Democrats in passing it.

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