Community Care Sites


 Wyoming is more than just rural – it is a frontier state that lacks the larger scale infrastructure common in other states. Wyoming lacks a coordinated statewide healthcare system. There is no statewide university system. Opportunities can be scarce for advancement, and women in particular face many barriers to self-sufficiency. Women face hurdles to entering and remaining in the workforce and communities struggle to offer enough child care to meet the demands. When child care is available, affordability is a challenge. Communities are not only isolated but also dispersed, making available infrastructure largely inaccessible. Compound this with a high gender wage gap, workforce recruitment challenges, and a volatile economy subjected to the boom-bust cycles of the energy industry. 



Co-locating child care facilities with community college and agriculture extension offices in communities around Wyoming to create a network of Community Care Sites. This will support affordable child care for parents – especially women – who wish to return to school or work.  This will support the growth of an early education workforce to ensure quality and sustainability as students in early education programs can work at the child care facilities. It will attract businesses to the state, helping to diversify Wyoming’s economy, and it will support economic growth as women are able to return to the workforce. Co-locating the facilities also helps expand the idea of institutions of learning as centers for community growth and assists with the often-prohibitive infrastructure costs of building or renovating a site into a code compliant child care facility. It can facilitate easy access to high speed internet for individuals and families that still need those final miles of broadband. It is an opportunity to complete the education circle.   


The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round, Clean and Quiet, All Through the State


 As in most states, Virginia’s public school buses are run on diesel fuels that produce carcinogens like Benzene and particulate matter (PM 2.5) which increase the risk of asthma and heart disease. Studies have found these toxins are present up to six times higher inside a diesel school bus, thereby exposing our youngest citizens to serious health issues. Among children ages 5-17, asthma is one of the top causes of their missed school days. Additionally, the transportation sector is responsible for 48% of Virginia’s carbon emissions and Virginia has the second-largest school bus fleet in the country. The Union of Concerned Scientists found that buses that operate on electric batteries have 67% lower life-cycle emissions than diesel, even when purchasing electricity from a utility.


My solution is to encourage local schools to convert to electric school buses using state incentives. To reduce both the health and climate aspects from the continued reliance on diesel school buses, I recently passed a bill to create the “Virginia Electric Vehicle Grant Program and Fund.” The new fund would support awarding competitive grants to local public schools to replace diesel school buses with electric versions, and to pay for the charging infrastructure, and for using labor-union trained workers to support maintenance. Based on the criteria of the Fund and Program, additional funds may support similar projects proposed by public, private, or nonprofit entities in Virginia to assist with replacing any commercial motor vehicle, heavy equipment, or other machinery that are used in Virginia that rely on diesel fuels with electric vehicles or equivalent equipment that reduce air emissions.

Kentucky Maternal and Infant Health Project


Kentucky is in a maternal mortality crisis. The rate of Kentucky women dying from pregnancy-related causes is more than double the national average, with the United States being last in maternal health outcomes among wealthy countries. This crisis is even worse for Black Kentuckians, for whom the infant mortality rate is almost double that of white Kentuckians, while maternal mortality is three to four times higher.


In 2021, the Kentucky House Democratic Women’s Caucus filed a slate of 21 bills and resolutions designed to raise awareness of the maternal health crisis in our Commonwealth and improve health outcomes for birthing people and infants across Kentucky. The bills cover five broad areas: care for families, mental health, incarceration, access to care, and health equity. Examples of the proposed bills are: Requiring Medicaid to cover the cost of midwives and doulas, who are able to provide a less stressful birth environment and fewer health complications; Expanding the current assistance program for families having their first child (HANDS) to include maternal and postpartum depression referrals and services; Extending Medicaid coverage for up to a year for postpartum-related health issues (currently ends after 60 days); Establishing pregnancy as a qualifying event for health insurance to increase access to prenatal care for those who otherwise may not have health insurance; Removing sales taxes on breastfeeding equipment and having insurance cover these costs; Authorizing a maternal, fetal, and infant mortality working group; Establishing insurance coverage for maternal depression screenings at pediatric visits; Creating a child mental health services access program; Expanding access to pregnancy-related services for incarcerated women.

Tackling the Overdose Crisis in Colorado

Colorado’s overdose death toll in 2020 was the worst in more than two decades, an increase of nearly 38% from the year before. NewDEAL Leader Colorado Senator Brittany Pettersen, whose mother once struggled with opioid addiction, said that the epidemic “makes me angry, frustrated, heartbroken, but also gives me strength to keep fighting.” Senator Pettersen is the chair of her state’s Behavioral Health Transformation Task Force and will be influential in the allocation of approximately $450 million in federal funding for COVID-related mental health and substance abuse needs. Pettersen hopes to make transformational investments to Colorado’s substance use benefit for Medicaid patients and improved access to fentanyl test strips. Read more about her work with the Task Force, and why she finds it so personally meaningful.

New Mental Health Commission in Florida

This week, NewDEAL Leader Florida Representative Christine Hunschofsky was appointed to serve on a new Commission on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. The Commission will explore Florida’s mental health and substance abuse care programs and make recommendations on how to improve the effectiveness of these practices. Upon her appointment, Representative Hunschofsky said, “The worldwide pandemic has exacerbated the mental health and substance abuse crises in our state, and it’s critical we begin our work to address the important need for our state.” For more from NewDEALers on the importance of focusing on mental health, listen to a recent episode of NewDEAL’s podcast featuring West Virginia Senate Minority Leader John Unger, who discussed the mental health crisis that emerged alongside the COVID pandemic and why it is important to invest in what he calls “human infrastructure.”

A Modern Healthcare Model in Delaware

NewDEAL Leader Delaware Senator Sarah McBride sponsored and advocated for the Telehealth Access Preservation and Modernization Act of 2021, which has been signed into law by Governor John Carney. The law codifies and expands Delaware residents’ access to telehealth services and, through the adoption of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, ensures that telehealth services can be provided through qualified medical practitioners in a streamlined and efficient manner that meets today’s health care delivery system needs. Senator McBride highlighted that families in rural communities will be able to access telehealth via audio-only services, even if they struggle with reliable internet. She also emphasized that, because of the new law, “a single working mom will be able to better communicate with her provider after hours” and “people with disabilities will face diminished barriers to care.”

Making Health Care More Affordable in Virginia

This week, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed Delegate Mark Sickles’ Commonwealth Health Reinsurance Program into law. The legislation directs the State Corporation Commission to establish a reinsurance program which would reduce consumers’ health insurance premiums, fully offsetting premiums that average $650 per month. Small business owners would also benefit from stabilized budgets and lower costs, allowing them to invest more in their businesses and workers. Read more about the bill, and how it will help make healthcare more affordable for Virginians.

A Public Option for Colorado

This week, Colorado Senator Kerry Donovan introduced the Colorado Health Insurance Option Plan, which would add a public option to Colorado’s health insurance exchange. The goal is to lower premiums, not just on the exchange, but for all health insurance customers in Colorado. The legislation gives industry until the end of 2024 to reach a desired 20 percent reduction in premiums, and only implements the Colorado Option in 2025 if that goal is not met. “This isn’t about imposing government mandates on the industry or forcing anyone to give up health care that they already have and like,” said Donovan, stressing the need to bring everyone to the table to solve high health care costs. The public option plans would be targeted to those who buy health insurance either on the individual or small group markets. Read more about the proposal here.

Targeting Maternal Mortality

With Kentucky in a “maternal mortality crisis,” NewDEAL Leader Kentucky Representative Nima Kulkarni has joined a group of women legislators spearheading a legislative package that focuses on resources that address urgent challenges facing mothers and their children. More than 20 proposals tackle everything from increased Medicaid coverage to elimination of sales tax on feminine products. Rep. Kulkarni particularly highlighted the state’s high incarceration rate for women and the need to improve care for those who are incarcerated while pregnant. Read more on the Kentucky Maternal and Infant Health Project.

Want to hear more from Rep. Kulkarni? Check out the latest episode of An Honorable Profession to hear her perspective on President Biden’s recent immigration work, from her position as a lawmaker and immigration attorney.

A Model Vaccine Rollout

As states and cities have varying levels of success with ramping up vaccinations, NewDEAL Leader Long Beach, CA Mayor Robert Garcia has created a system hailed by his governor as a model. The city’s effective response allowed it to be the first to open up vaccinations to non-medical essential workers after moving speedily through its first phase, which included health care workers and nursing home residents and staff. Building on the city’s prioritization of bringing testing to harder-hit neighborhoods, Long Beach turned testing sites into vaccine sites and created a robust notification system that keeps residents up to date on their eligibility. Read the New York Times write-up for more details on California’s vaccination process and Long Beach’s success.