Kongress muss WIC 2024 nach Budgetvereinbarung vollständig finanzieren Kongress muss WIC 2024 nach Budgetvereinbarung vollständig finanzieren

Kongress muss WIC 2024 nach Budgetvereinbarung vollständig finanzieren

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2024 – For the past 25 years, Congress has upheld a bipartisan commitment to provide full funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to serve every eligible participant that applies. Following this week’s announcement of a bipartisan agreement on topline funding levels for fiscal year 2024 appropriations and as negotiations still continue in Congress on a final budget, the Administration believes it is critical that final appropriations bills fully fund WIC, to allow the program to continue to serve all eligible pregnant women, mothers, infants, and children who apply. Despite repeated requests from the Biden-Harris Administration, Congress has not committed to fully fund this vital program. Congress has the ability to act now and fully fund WIC in 2024, and avoid risking nutrition security for nearly 6.7 million pregnant women, new mothers, babies, and young children across the country (see table).

At the end of the day, this is a decision about values – WIC is an evidenced-based program that leads to better health outcomes for mothers and children. The current funding levels will not cover all eligible participants, and the longer Congress puts off fully funding WIC, the greater the risk to mothers, babies, and children seeking nutrition and health support from the program. Through the two recent Continuing Resolutions, Congress has indicated that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and states should spend current funding at a faster rate in order to serve everyone who is eligible through March 2024, but they haven’t provided the funds to cover the program once those resources run out. That means that if Congress does not provide the needed funding when they ultimately pass final appropriations bills, the impact of cuts would be magnified because USDA will have to absorb all of them in the final months of the fiscal year.

If Congress were to fund the program at the current, lower Continuing Resolution level for the remaining months of the fiscal year, the $1 billion shortfall that will occur is equivalent to 1.5 months of benefits for all program beneficiaries. The $1 billion shortfall also equals the estimated cost of providing six months of benefits to all pregnant women and infants participating in WIC.

A federal funding shortfall of this magnitude presents states with difficult, untenable decisions about how to manage the program. Many states would likely implement waiting lists for applicants to reduce costs. Under program rules, waiting lists would be implemented first for non-breastfeeding postpartum women, next for children ages 1 to 5 years old who do not have higher-risk medical issues, and then for pregnant and breastfeeding women and infants who do not have higher-risk medical issues. But given the size of the funding shortfall, it is likely that waiting lists would stretch across all participant categories, affecting both new applicants and mothers, babies, and young children enrolled in the program who are up for renewal of benefits.

To provide a sense of the number of people whose benefits could be at risk if states turned to waiting lists, even for short periods, USDA estimates that 810,000 eligible people apply for WIC services in a given month nationwide, which includes those new to the program and those whose WIC benefits are up for renewal. Many states would likely have to utilize waiting lists for an extended period to address the funding gap that would result if Congress funded WIC at the Continuing Resolution level for the rest of the year.

Estimated Number of Applicants WIC Clinics Process Monthly in FY 2024

Infants 170,000
Children 370,000
Pregnant 110,000
Breastfeeding 80,000
Postpartum 70,000
Total 810,000

It is possible that even waitlisting applicants and taking other cost-cutting measures like reducing clinic hours would not be enough to close the shortfall. In that case, some states might be forced to discontinue or suspend benefits for current participants – which is allowed by program rules as a last resort.

Cutting off access to WIC for pregnant women, new mothers, and infants and children would have severe and harmful consequences. An abundance of research shows the critical role that WIC plays in supporting maternal health and child development. WIC participation during pregnancy is associated with lower risk of preterm birth, lower risk of low birthweight, and lower risk of infant mortality. Children on WIC are also more likely to consume a healthier diet, and this impact grows the longer a child stays on WIC.

Nearly 40 percent of America’s infants participate in WIC, which is available only to pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children who meet income guidelines and are determined to be at nutritional risk by a health professional. Families with young children, particularly infants, can struggle to make ends meet. The Biden-Harris Administration understands this and is committed to giving America’s children the healthiest start at a good life. Curbing access to nutrition security programs like WIC is counter to this effort and instead punishes parents and children.

The longer Congress puts off fully funding WIC, the greater the risk to mothers, babies, and children seeking nutrition and health support from the program.

Appendix:

Table A1: State WIC Participation, September 2023

  Pregnant Women Breastfeeding Women Postpartum Women Infants Children Total
Alabama 11,819 4,632 9,186 28,972 59,416 114,025
Alaska 1,180 1,455 438 2,979 8,159 14,211
American Samoa 306 321 122 650 2,488 3,887
Arizona 9,945 11,295 7,976 31,336 80,253 140,805
Arkansas 6,716 3,344 5,347 16,838 31,619 63,864
California 79,143 86,359 41,168 176,732 595,306 978,708
Colorado 6,680 8,455 5,178 18,961 50,966 90,240
Connecticut 4,089 3,390 2,493 11,615 25,566 47,153
Delaware 1,757 1,460 1013 4,607 11,774 20,611
District of Columbia 1,008 1,440 607 3,108 5,968 12,131
Florida 34,025 40,606 18,384 93,613 219,336 405,964
Georgia 21,387 16,389 13,237 58,158 116,649 225,820
Guam 358 497 307 1,290 3,587 6,039
Hawaii 1,839 2,610 865 5,142 14,411 24,867
Idaho 2,303 3,238 1,348 6,504 17,575 30,968
Illinois 15,041 13,928 9,064 43,706 84,490 166,229
Indiana 10,893 12,824 9,496 34,463 81,080 148,756
Iowa 4,460 4,659 3,276 13,337 33,312 59,044
Kansas 4,046 3,810 2,652 10,549 26,520 47,577
Kentucky 8,992 6,127 6,903 24,810 58,493 105,325
Louisiana 9,521 6,640 10,022 28,869 43,248 98,300
Maine 1,365 1,556 702 3,961 10,539 18,123
Maryland 10,771 11,948 5,351 27,305 65,741 121,116
Massachusetts 9,145 10,477 5,068 23,723 75,597 124,010
Michigan 16,992 11,617 11,600 43,411 118,587 202,207
Minnesota 7,842 9,757 4,479 21,483 60,462 104,023
Mississippi 5,004 3,569 5,646 18,216 29,563 61,998
Missouri 8,956 7,564 6,447 24,334 45,749 93,050
Montana 1,131 1,216 598 2,961 7,979 13,885
Nebraska 2,536 3,026 2,003 7,400 21,567 36,532
Nevada 3,753 4,571 3,311 12,068 30,112 53,815
New Hampshire 911 905 507 2,285 8,072 12,680
New Jersey 11,289 16,966 6,783 33,525 95,178 163,741
New Mexico 3,284 3,850 2,205 9,229 18,996 37,564
New York 29,992 45,665 15,288 87,489 246,132 424,566
North Carolina 19,291 19,886 12,908 53,547 124,796 230,428
North Dakota 714 718 505 2,116 5,814 9,867
Ohio 12,969 14,646 14,315 43,995 95,836 181,761
Oklahoma 7,932 4,914 4,484 18,537 35,933 71,800
Oregon 6,083 7,165 3,643 14,622 47,224 78,737
Pennsylvania 12,898 10,529 15,469 40,188 98,807 177,891
Puerto Rico 8,595 5,521 5,170 15,047 54,696 89,029
Rhode Island 1,457 1,343 1,163 3,932 9,911 17,806
South Carolina 8,077 6,353 6,220 22,762 52,286 95,698
South Dakota 1,095 1,100 612 3,090 7,735 13,632
Tennessee 12,838 10,698 9,704 33,917 67,072 134,229
Texas 68,967 109,222 33,291 188,906 391,820 792,206
Utah 3,628 4,748 2,211 10,531 23,729 44,847
Vermont 781 1,032 378 1,822 6,725 10,738
Virginia 203 392 56 600 1,323 2,574
Virgin Islands 8969 8232 7343 26391 66,367 117,302
Washington 11,199 9,755 7,607 25,807 76,771 131,139
West Virginia 3,143 1,816 2,679 8,308 21,600 37,546
Wisconsin 6,698 6,515 5,180 19,099 53,360 90,852
Wyoming 600 679 450 1,716 4,126 7,571
Northern Mariana Islands 216 241 86 471 1,701 2,715
Indian Tribal Organizations 3,816 2,819 2,719 9,956 26,549 45,859
TOTAL 548,648 594,490 355,263 1,478,989 3,678,671 6,656,061

#

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Quelle

Schreibe einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert