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WASHINGTON JOINS OTHER STATES TO SAVE MILLIONS ON BABY FORMULA COSTS, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SAYS

WASHINGTON JOINS OTHER STATES TO SAVE MILLIONS ON BABY FORMULA COSTS,
 DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SAYS
 OLYMPIA, Wash., June 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Beginning next week, the state will begin saving about $14 million each year on baby formula it purchases for infants of low-income families, the Washington State Department of Health said today.
 The savings, which will allow about 8,000 additional people into the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, are the result of Washington combining its buying power with 10 other states and tribal organizations.
 "By initiating this multi-state contract, Washington has taken an important step toward improving the health of thousands of babies," said State Health Secretary Kristine M. Gebbie. "Good nutrition is critical during the developmental stages of a child's life, particularly the first year."
 The 11 states and tribal groups used a cooperative purchasing agreement developed by the Western States Contracting Alliance (WSCA), an organization initiated last fall by the Washington State Department of General Administration. The award of the contract to Carnation and Mead Johnson was announced this morning at a press conference in Olympia.
 "This multi-state bid gives each of the 11 programs the bulk purchasing buying power of a state the size of New York," said K. Wendy Holden, director of the Department of General Administration. "We chose to split the bid between two different companies to get a better price for the formula."
 Under the 39-month contract, Carnation's "Good Start" milk-based formula and Mead Johnson's "Prosobee" soy-based formula will be the primary formula for WIC clients. The state will spend about 34 cents for a can of the Carnation product, which retails for about $1.88. The Mead Johnson formula will cost the state about 49 cents per can. It retails for about $2.15. The state currently pays about 82 cents per can for both milk and soy-based formula.
 Grocery store owners, physicians, local health agencies and others have been notified of the contract, which becomes effective July 1. Currently, four brands of baby formula are allowed under WIC.
 The contract requires all formula-fed infants on the WIC program to use the two brands, though physicians will still be able to prescribe a non-contract formula if an infant has health problems which make the contract formulas inappropriate.
 Washington's WIC program accounts for one-third of the total number of infants covered by the contract. The State Department of Health spends about $50 million annually for services to WIC clients. Of this, $38 million is provided by the federal government, $9 million comes from savings in the current baby formula program, and the remaining $3 million is from state funds.
 About 74,000 Washington women and children are currently enrolled in the WIC program, including 26,000 infants on formula. State health officials estimate this represents about half of those eligible. Most WIC clients, both mothers and children, are enrolled for about 18 months.
 "The provision of food and preventative health services to 8,000 additional women and children will make a significant contribution toward alleviating childhood hunger in Washington," said Linda Stone, chair of the Anti-Hunger and Child Nutrition Coalition of Washington, a statewide group which includes the Washington Dietetic Association, the United Way of Washington and the Junior League.
 The other states and tribal organizations joining Washington in this effort are: Utah, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, Nevada, the Navajo Nation and the Inter-Tribal Councils of Nevada and Arizona.
 While infant formula plays an important role in the WIC program, all pregnant women are encouraged to breast feed as the healthiest infant feeding method. Those mothers who do breast feed are provided various foods as well as nutritional counseling. Formula is provided only for those infants who are not breast fed.
 -0- 6/25/92
 /CONTACT: Dean R. Owen of the Washington State Department of Health, 206-753-3934; or Christine Yorozu of the Washington State Department of General Administration, 206-586-8953; or Al Brislain of the Spokane Food Bank and member of Anti-Hunger & Child Nutrition Coalition of Washington, 509-534-6678/ CO: Washington State Department of Health; Washington State
 Department of General Administration; Carnation; Mead Johnson ST: Washington IN: SU:


LM-SC -- SE001 -- 7975 06/25/92 13:01 EDT
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Date:Jun 25, 1992
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