By eliminating the diaper tax, we can help parents pay for the essentials
When bringing home a new child for the first time, parents quickly find that their bundles of joy present all kinds of challenges. An exhausting and unpredictable sleep schedule, staying alert to meet all of their child’s needs, mysterious illnesses and ailments…even amidst the joy and joy of parenthood, those early years are hard to live with.
And then, of course, there are the layers. Mountains and mountains of layers. The MOST Policy Initiative states, “During the first three years of life, an estimated 4,600 to 4,800 disposable diapers are in use and have an average cost of between $945 and $1,500 per year.
This figure represents a significant impact on a family’s bottom line for an essential healthcare item. A 2013 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that about 30% of new mothers struggled to afford diapers. Last year, I had the opportunity to visit an organization in Kansas City that helps mothers in dire need of this essential resource called Happy Bottoms. I learned a lot during my visit, especially about the challenges that parents in poverty face because of the expenses.
Dirty diapers can hinder the growth of a new family. First, dirty diapers can lead to all sorts of health problems for babies, from diaper rash, which can lead to bacterial infection, to urinary tract infections. Second, these diseases can present more financial barriers in forms of health care, which only prolong and deepen the cycle of poverty.
Third and finally, the lack of access to clean diapers harms the mental health of parents who feel unable to meet their baby’s basic needs. At a time in their lives when stress and anxiety are likely at an all-time high since the arrival of a new child, the added psychological strain can have a serious impact on a parent’s ability to function.
We have a simple way to help reduce some of the cost of diapers and alleviate some of these negative impacts. That’s why I filed HB 2384 which will reduce some of the financial burden on parents struggling to meet the cost of diapers by exempting diapers from sales tax.
I believe this change will leave a lasting positive impact on new mothers in our state. Perhaps more importantly, I know that members of the General Assembly on both sides of the Capitol and on both sides of the aisle can agree on this language. In fact, we already do. Democratic Senator Lauren Arthur filed SB 1124and Republican Rep. Dottie Bailey also plans to file similar legislation in the near future.
These simple pieces of legislation could relieve moms and dads and let them focus on the simple, wonderful and precious joy of parenthood.
Rep. Patty Lewis is a Democrat who represents HD 25 in Jackson County. She has over 20 years of healthcare experience as a critical care and intensive care registered nurse and healthcare executive. In the Legislative Assembly, Lewis is a member of the Health and Mental Health Policy Committee.