Los Angeles, California
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everyone. So, I am — I am here at Baby2Baby to highlight some very important work that is happening that is having national impact to address a longstanding issue in our country, which is the need for mothers, for parents, to have the support that they need immediately after they’ve given birth.
There are approximately 8 million women in our country right now who do not have Medicaid coverage who are of childbearing years. And when we look at the challenges that a new mom faces, they are immense.
One of the biggest issues that this group is — is addressing is the issue of diapers. One in three families that need diapers don’t have them.
And let’s understand what that means. First of all, it is about meeting the essential needs of a newborn, of a baby. It is also then, obviously, about what that does in terms of the anxiety, the stress, the emotional harm to that parent and to that mother, in particular.
So, it — it includes, as we’ve heard, a new mom who wants to go back to work because she has to go back to work to put food on the table or pay the rent. And if she doesn’t have the requisite number of diapers to leave her child at daycare, she can’t leave her child at daycare.
So, the work that is happening here builds on the work of these leaders. And, in particular, I want to acknowledge Norah and Kelly, who have gone to Sacramento and testified, for example, to say that’s not right that there’s a sale tax on diapers. These are essential needs.
And sadly, for so many young parents and so many new moms, the barrier between meeting the very basic needs of their newborn child and their ability to do that has to do with how much money they have. That’s not right.
So, we are here to uplift this work because it is about meeting the needs of someone who should be experiencing a very joyful moment in their life. It is about addressing the fact that we should all work toward allowing people to have the dignity that they deserve at different phases of their life, including becoming a new parent.
So, I’m here to highlight this work because we are partnering with Baby2Baby — the federal government, through HHS — to outline the work that is happening here and to make sure it gets to the folks who need it.
So, we will be piloting this program in Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Louisiana as part of the ongoing work to make sure that we can meet the needs of parents wherever they are.
You — and we, as Californians — know that the needs include what happens after a natural disaster. In California, we experience a myriad of disasters, including wildfire season, for example. And so, you’ll see that they have also created packages for disaster relief, which they distribute around the country. And again, meeting the basic needs of families.
And I think we all know, if you — if you have a baby who is crying because their basic needs are not being met, what that means to the whole family and to how people feel and whether they can be productive and do what they need to get done.
So, it’s important work, and we applaud it. And we’re proud to lift it up. And the partnership with the federal government with organizations such as this really does speak to, also, the importance of public-private partnerships.
And I’ll end with saying that I’ve spent the vast majority of my career focused on the issues that impact women and children and their safety, their wellbeing, and their health. And I’m very proud to lift up the work that is happening here as an example of a model of what we can do and do more to meet the needs of our families.
And with that, I’ll take your question, because I don’t want you to have to shout from under the wing again. (Laughs.)
Q Thank you. I was shouting out at the wing; couldn’t get ya.
Well, one on this first.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
Q I noticed that the states that you announced are all red states. Is there any — any concerted effort to do that? Or —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, no, but — but what I will point out about many of the states — the states that I mentioned: There is a high level of need. And if you look at certain states, the — where there is — where the resources are not there from the state or local entities, we are prepared to step in. And so we recognize the high rates of need there.
You will find that in many states in our country, sadly, but in particular some of the states, in particular in the South, where we see higher rates of maternal mortality. Because also we’re talking about in — in certain areas, rural areas and others, where there is what we call “maternal health deserts,” where there are no OBGYNs, where there are no clinics and — or hospitals that are there to meet the daily needs other than a crisis moment, an emergency moment for those moms.
So we are targeting our resources based on where we know there is a need.
Q Then the follow-up question. This is from the pool for the day.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
Q You were in the meeting earlier this week —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q — with —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: With the President and —
Q — Speaker McCarthy and the President —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
Q — and there has been a pause on the debt ceiling negotiations. Is there any concern from your end? And where do you think it goes from here?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: So, you are correct, there is a pause. And there are differences. There are differences between us in terms of where we think we should be.
But, you know, let’s also understand these negotiations are difficult. However, I will say that our team, who is in the room negotiating on this, is absolutely committed to figuring out how we can reach an agreement.
The bottom line is that we all should agree, no matter who you voted for, America cannot default. We have never defaulted before. The last time we came close, we lost credit rating.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It had a direct impact on the economy and on working families when we came close to it. So, what I would suggest is that we all agree and urge our elected leaders: Come to a resolution on this, because default is not an option for any of us. It is not an option.
Thank you very much.