Please sign our letter in support of NWA's requests for WIC reauthorization. The text of the letter is below. Click here to send a letter to Congress.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has been instrumental in improving at-risk women and children’s health, growth and development, and preventing health problems for 41 years. WIC serves approximately 8 million mothers and young children through 10,000 clinics nationwide.
Quality nutrition services are the centerpiece of WIC: nutrition and breastfeeding counseling and education, nutritious foods, and improved healthcare access for low and moderate income women and children with, or at risk of developing, nutrition-related health problems including overweight, obesity, and type-2 diabetes. WIC’s committed, results-oriented, entrepreneurial staffs stretch resources to serve the maximum numbers of women, infants, and children and ensure program effectiveness and integrity.
As the nation’s premier public health nutrition program, WIC is a science-based, rigorously studied, cost-effective, sound investment – ensuring the health of our children.
In light of the critical role WIC plays in building a better future for America’s women and children, I urge you to honor the following recommendations as you undertake WIC reauthorization this year:
- Name WIC for what it delivers. Change the program’s name to the Special Supplemental Public Health Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
WIC is more than a nutrition program. It is the gateway to health care for millions of mothers and young children providing referrals to prenatal and pediatric care, lead screening, oral hygiene, immunizations, smoking cessation, and abuse counseling.
- Protect and preserve adjunctive eligibility.
Enacted in 1989 to link WIC preventive services to other health and social service programs, adjunctive eligibility supports program integrity, assures lower NSA and reduced administrative costs, streamlines enrollment, decreases health care costs by preventing illness, developmental problems, and chronic diseases and assures the preventive public health value of WIC.
- Enhance the quality of the fully breastfeeding food package by rounding inflation-adjusted cash value vouchers to the nearest dollar increment rather than always rounding down.
Maintain the enhanced value of the fully breastfeeding food package, as recommended by the IOM and as proposed by FNS in the Interim Final Rule, by increasing the monthly cash value voucher benefit for fully breastfeeding women from $10 to $12.
- Assure that choice in the WIC food packages promotes WIC success by maximizing state flexibility to offer national and private label brand options to adequately and appropriately respond to consumer needs, cultural preferences, and family lifestyles.
- Achieve efficiencies, coordinate nutrition services with health and safety net programs, and save Medicaid and health care cost by: Giving states the option to certify infants for two years to eliminate duplicative paperwork and focus WIC on health, nutrition, breastfeeding, immunization, and pediatric referral services that will make a significant difference in the lives of lower income infants and young children; giving states the option to increase the certification timeframe for both breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding women to two years post-partum; and giving states the option to extend eligibility for children to age six to assure a continued strong health and nutrition foundation, preparing children for school entrance, getting them ready to learn, and reducing childhood obesity and other chronic diseases.
- Enhance service delivery through information technology by providing $35 million in unencumbered funding outside the regular NSA grant to implement MIS core functions, upgrade WIC technology systems, maintain MIS and electronic services, and render MIS systems EBT-ready.
- Move WIC to electronic benefit service delivery by 2020 by providing at least $50 million per year up to a total of $219 million for the smooth transition of WIC service delivery from paper based systems to EBT systems. WIC EBT: Assures program integrity, allowing for accurate rebate billing on infant formula, ensuring retailer claims do not exceed the shelf price, assuring secure transactions, timely and accurate claims, reducing resources spent on retailer compliance activities, monitoring and reconciling retailer overcharges, reducing forgery and fraud opportunities, increasing accountability, reducing paperwork, improving administrative efficiencies, and streamlining clinic operations; assures participants convenience and the ability to purchase the full complement of food benefits within the valid period, through easy, quick, secure, discreet, confidential single transactions for all items purchased in a particular shopping trip; and assures retail purchases of only WIC-authorized foods, eliminates improper substitutions, reduces cashier error and the need for intensive training, provides for a secure, single transaction for all items purchased, allows for timely claims, settlements, fast and easy operation, reduced paperwork by eliminating paper food instruments, and more trips to the store by participants resulting in increased purchases.
- Protect WIC’s limited technology resources by amending current law to clarify that WIC is not expected to pick up the on-going costs of communications lines, processing fees, maintenance, and new and replacement equipment costs, and further that where an authorized vendor accepts both SNAP and WIC benefits that the vendor assume the incremental costs for EBT.
- Protect and support breastfeeding in WIC by: Emphasizing the importance of breastfeeding in WIC with the addition of “breastfeeding support and promotion” to each citation related to WIC for nutrition education in the Child Nutrition Act of 1966; and enhancing the successful breastfeeding peer counselor initiative by increasing the authorized level to $180 million per year.
Through the WIC Reauthorization process, Congress plays a critical role in addressing healthy birth outcomes and early childhood development in this country. I urge you to prioritize our nation’s infants and children by fully supporting our requests.
- Provide $15 million per year to support updated, rigorous health outcomes research and evaluation, documenting WIC’s continued success.