On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump is going to deliver his first official State of the Union address. Then, immediately after, Massachusetts representative Joe Kennedy is going to deliver the Democratic response. So, if you're not so familiar with Kennedy, you might like to learn a few details between now and then. For example, you might want to get to know Lauren Birchfield, who is Kennedy's wife of more than five years.
Lauren, who is named by different outlets and sources as either Lauren Kennedy or Lauren Birchfield Kennedy, met and began dating Joe while attending Harvard Law School. In fact, to be specific, they met in a class taught by then-Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren, who is now herself a U.S. senator from the state of Massachusetts. The pair were wed in 2012, and they have two children, Eleanor Kennedy, and their young baby James Kennedy, who was born in December of last year.
Lauren is a graduate of UCLA, and after finishing her collegiate career, she began working in the fields of health care policy. She formerly worked as the director of health policy for the National Partnership for Women and Families, spearheading the organization's policy slate and its advocacy plans. She is currently a co-founder at Neighborhood Villages, a nonprofit aimed at improving access to affordable childcare. She's also reportedly worked with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts, yet another chapter of her professional life focused on the inner-workings of the health care system.
Her career emphasis on health care was displayed by her recent op-ed on the Republican Party's recent refusal to fund the children's health insurance program (or CHIP) a program depended on by approximately nine million American children. Co-authored with Joe, the op-ed ran in Cosmopolitan last week, and it explicitly argued that American families should not have to fear their children will go uninsured due to congressional failure to extend the program.
No family should have to worry that welcoming a newborn safely into this world could force a missed mortgage payment or come at the expense of putting food on the table. No parents should lose sleep because their child’s co-pays, prescription medications, primary-care visits, behavioral-health specialists, hospital stays, or other health care services would decimate the family budget if affordable health insurance wasn’t available through CHIP.
Congressional Republicans ultimately struck a deal with the Democrats to pass a new six-year funding bill for CHIP earlier this week, in exchange for a vote reopening the federal government.
Lauren's professional focus on health care has also informed her perspective on the Obama administration's signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In an interview back in 2015, discussing the pending Supreme Court challenge to the law, King v. Burwell, she told radio host and producer Carole Marks that the ACA represented "the greatest advance in women's health in a generation."
The Affordable Care Act has been the greatest advance in women's health in a generation. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, women can no longer be charged more for their health coverage because of their gender, they've got peace of mind knowing that when they enroll in a market-based plan it will cover the health services that are essential to their health and well-being ― maternity care, birth control, preventative screenings for breast and cervical cancer. So, this case is really critical with respect to making sure that the affordability of health coverage is preserved for everyone in this country.
"We have been watching it very closely, because we care very much about the outcome," she continued. "We are confident that the Supreme Court will look at the law as a whole, and recognize that the very clear intent behind the Affordable Care Act was to make sure that affordable health coverage would be available to everyone across the United States, regardless of which state you live in."
As it turned out, her hopes were validated, as the Supreme Court ruling preserved the signature health care law. If you're curious to see her husband Joe's response to President Trump's State of the Union, you won't have to wait much longer ― it'll be taking place immediately following the Tuesday night address, which is scheduled to begin at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Correction: This article has been updated to accurately reflect Lauren Birchfield's current occupation.