After Motherly's second annual State of Motherhood survey revealed that 85% of moms feel society doesn't understand or support mothers, we knew we needed to reach out to all presidential candidates with a series of questions on behalf of America's mothers.
Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.
Sen. Bernie Sander's campaign was quick to respond to our questions. Read on to see how he plans to address our demands.
How Bernie Sanders will bring paid family leave to America:
The evidence is clear: doctors, the World Health Organization, parents around the world and other experts recommend at least six months of paid leave. As President, Bernie will guarantee six months paid family leave. The U.S. must end the national disgrace of being the only major country in the world not to offer paid family leave. We will guarantee all workers paid family and medical leave, paid sick leave, and paid vacation, and ensure survivors of domestic violence receive paid leave as well.
How Senator Sanders will ensure the maternal health crisis is addressed:
Black women are three and a half times more likely to die from pregnancy than white women and almost twice as likely to be uninsured.
In 2017, 14% of African American women were uninsured. The research from experts is clear: to solve our maternal mortality crisis, we need to address insurance. We will enact Medicare for All, which will guarantee health care, including quality maternal health care, as a human right to everyone in America, free at the point of service.
We must not only guarantee health care to all as a right, but end the long-standing disparities which exist within the health care system. Under Bernie's plan, we will work to guarantee every pregnant Black woman access to treatment by culturally competent health care professionals as the baseline standard.
In addition to ensuring all providers receive training to provide culturally competent care, he will address the need for more black doctors, more black dentists, more black nurses, and more black psychologists who can provide culturally competent care in their communities by massively expanding the National Health Services Corps and Teaching Health Centers.
We will work to guarantee every pregnant Black woman treatment by culturally competent health care professionals as the baseline standard.
How Bernie Sanders will ensure better maternal mental health support:
We are experiencing a crisis in mental health treatment in this country. While there has been much talk about mental health parity in our health care system, we are not even close to achieving it. It's past time for a serious discussion about treating mental illness and ensuring access to care.
Bernie's Medicare for All plan would address this crisis by providing comprehensive coverage for mental health and substance abuse treatment services as well as prescription drugs. Mental health care, under Medicare for All, will be free at the time of service, with no co-payments that can be a barrier to treatment.
This country has a serious shortage of mental health practitioners. We will address this health workforce shortage crisis by increasing funding for the National Health Service Corps, which provides scholarships and loan repayment to clinicians working in underserved communities. Through Medicare for All, we will bring more providers to underserved communities by increasing federal funding for community health centers, which currently serve nearly 30 million people in underserved communities.
Bernie's Medicare for All plan requires an evaluation of health disparities, including racial and geographic disparities, and a plan for addressing the disparities found in the evaluation. It creates an Office of Primary Health to figure out how to increase access to care, including how to train the workforce we need to address these disparities. Under Bernie's Medicare for All, mental health care will be just as important as physical health care.
How Senator Sanders will support mothers in feeding their babies:
We must end hunger in America and guarantee all communities healthy and nutritious food, and ensure every mother and child in this country is food secure. To do that, Bernie will expand the WIC program for pregnant mothers, infants, and children. He will raise the eligibility to age 6 and allow WIC certification to apply for the first two years of a child's life and increase outreach to eligible families to increase take-up. Currently, only 50 percent of eligible pregnant women participate in the program.
He will pass the Universal School Meals Program Act to provide universal, year-round, free breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner at school, eliminate all school meal lunch debt and end "lunch debt shaming," and expand Summer EBT across the country to ensure no student goes hungry during the summer.
He will expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $311 billion to increase the benefits from the "thrifty" plan, which provides inadequate benefits, to the more accurate "low-cost" food plan to include those with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line. He will remove punitive work requirements, remove barriers for college students to access SNAP, and ensure people are not denied benefits due to past interaction with the criminal justice system, allow SNAP recipients to purchase hot and prepared foods with their benefits. allow SNAP and WIC recipients to use their benefits to purchase food through online grocery shopping and delivery services.
Bernie will raise the minimum wage to a living wage of at least $15 an hour, expand Social Security, and enact Medicare for All — putting money back in the pockets of mothers to feed their children. He will also support grocery stores with local, healthy, affordable options with a $14.7 billion investment in cooperatively and community owned grocery stores.
How Bernie Sanders will create affordable childcare solutions:
The ages 0-4 are the most important years of human development. In America today, we have a dysfunctional childcare and pre-K system. It is unconscionable that in the wealthiest country in the world, we do not properly invest in our children's healthy physical, social, educational, and cognitive development. We need a revolution in this country in terms of how we provide child care and pre-K education. Bernie will guarantee universal childcare and prekindergarten to every child in America to help level the playing field, create new and good jobs, and enable parents more easily balance the demands of work and home.
How Senator Sanders will work to change the cultural expectations that contribute to maternal stress in America:
When it comes to supporting mothers, the United States lags behind virtually every major country on earth. We are the only advanced economy that doesn't guarantee its workers some form of paid family and medical leave, paid sick leave or paid vacation time. That will change when Bernie is President.
Bernie is deeply committed to working with and creating an America that empowers women of color, indigneous women, the LGBTQ+ community, and women across this nation. The issues of paid leave, equal pay, representation and accountability are vital steps we must take to create an America that works for everyone.
Bernie's vision for this country is to ensure everyone in our country has basic economic rights – the right to quality health care, the right to as much education as one needs to succeed in our society, the right to a good job that pays a living wage, the right to affordable housing, the right to a secure retirement, and the right to live in a clean environment.
We must recognize that in the 21st century, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, economic rights are human rights.