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Hearing the phrase, “The IRS has reversed its decision!” is a great way to start the day – any day.

The MomsRising team celebrated this morning as we got word that the Internal Revenue Service had reversed its decision and will now let women pay for breast pumps with pre-tax money from health savings accounts. This means that nursing moms will be able to get some help in paying for this critical but expensive equipment that benefits both them and their children.

MomsRising members were outraged last year when an article in the New York Times revealed that the IRS had determined that breast pumps and equipment could not be paid for with health savings account funds based on the finding that “breast-feeding does not have enough health benefits to qualify as a form of medical care.”

This decision totally defied logic, particularly since every major medical authority, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months and support for breastfeeding for the first year and beyond.  These recommendations are based on the overwhelming evidence that it provides health benefits to both mother and child.

Senator Jeff Merkley and Congresswoman Maloney sent letters from the Senate and House – signed by 41 of their colleagues – calling on IRS Commissioner Shuler to reverse this decision.  In their letter, they cited research studies that show children who are breastfed have decreased risk of asthma, ear infections, leukemia, type 1 diabetes, and obesity.

Moms, dads, and grandparents immediately protested this decision too. More than 24,000 people signed the MomsRising petition calling on the IRS to reverse its decision.  News of our IRS petition and discussion about the issue were featured on blogs like the NY Times blog, Facebook and Twitter, and discussion boards.

The IRS isn’t known for changing its mind but this time – in the face of overwhelming evidence and public support – it did.  Great work all!

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