Welcome to Brain, Child’s Friday morning policy update where we look at issues impacting women and children with Valerie Young, Public Policy Analyst for Mom-mentum.
The really big news is President Obama’s call to pass legislation (“Healthy Families Act”) that would give every US worker 7 paid sick days a year, to use for their own illness or to care for a sick child or family member. He also announced his plan to include $2.2 billion in the budget to reimburse states that implement paid family leave programs, which keep food on the table while a worker is dealing with birth or adoption, a serious illness, or to care for a family member dealing with a serious illness. The US is the only industrialized country with no guaranteed paid maternity leave. Supporters argue this omission stresses families, finances, blunts economic growth and weakens our global competitiveness.
The new health care law has brought about some important changes for mothers’ insurance coverage. Now all policies must cover maternity and newborn care, as well as breastfeeding costs (like pumps!). The new law also means that employers are required to follow certain rules to support breastfeeding mothers at work. Women can no longer be charged higher premiums for being – wait for it – women, and pre-existing conditions, like pregnancy, cannot be excluded from coverage. The US Department of Labor is making sure you know these things by this post on their blog.
Pregnant women in Illinois now enjoy stronger legal protection. “That means women who are pregnant who are applying for jobs or who are employed in the state of Illinois, private employers included, are protected from discrimination as well as retaliation for requesting accommodation,’ reports KSDK.com. The new law is similar to the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which has failed to move along in the US Congress.
Three exciting reports crossed my desk this week:
We know so much more about the birth process and our hormones, as explained in Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care.
Moms, dads, partners, kids, or any combination thereof – family structures are more varied than ever, and the Center for American Progress says governments have to update policies to match how we live now in Valuing All Our Families .
Finally, AARP points out that though our children may grow up and move out, millions of us will be family caregivers again, as the baby boom generation ages – and we will face then many of the same tensions between earning a living and caring for loved ones that we face right now. Prepare yourself by reading The Aging of the Baby Boom and the Growing Care Gap: A Look at Future Declines in the Availability of Family Caregivers
Follow Valerie on Facebook at Your (Wo)Man in Washington, and on Twitter @WomanInDC, and find a weekly blog post at WomanInWashington.org.