Scott sees WIC waivers as way to ease infant formula shortage
Congressman Bobby Scott is a Democrat from Newport News who is chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. He's working with members of his committee to improve access to baby formula during the shortage crisis.
He says the idea is to ease requirements at the USDA for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. "When you get a WIC voucher, it requires you to buy a certain brand name. If that brand name isn't on the shelf but another name is, you can't use the voucher," Scott notes. "We're going to provide waivers so that whatever is on the shelf you can buy with the voucher."
Manufacturers usually bid against each other to provide discounts, and the manufacturer that provides the steepest discount gets access to the WIC program.
But Christine McDaniel at George Mason University's Mercatus Center says easing restrictions on the WIC program seems like a sensible approach during the crisis. "The WIC recipients being lower in come, they may be less able to travel long distances to stores that do have stock or maybe less able to pay higher prices for what is available. So any flexibility in the marketplace in terms of using those vouchers seems to make sense."
House Democrats hope to get the bill on the floor for a vote by Thursday.