Secretary Antony J. Blinken Introductory Remarks for Youth Speaker Xiye Bastida

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Washington, D.C.

The White House

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Mr. President, thank you very much.  And now it’s a true pleasure and honor to introduce another leader: climate activist Xiye Bastida.

Xiye grew up in the town of San Pedro Tultepec, in Mexico.  She’s a member of the Otomi-Toltec Nation.  She’s experienced first-hand the devastating impact of climate crisis.

When she was just 11 years old, her town was hit by back-to-back years of climate-driven drought.  Then the intense rains came.  And then the floods.  Her family was displaced, and she and her parents relocated to the United States, to New York.

These dramatic swings in extreme weather are just one of the consequences of the climate crisis we’re already experiencing across the world, including here in the United States, where, at the same time as Xiye’s town was experiencing droughts and floods, the American Southwest was in the middle of the worst drought since the 16th century.

After relocating to New York, Xiye came face to face with another impact of the climate crisis in the lasting damage left by Superstorm Sandy.  Wherever she went, she saw how changes driven by climate were hurting communities.

So Xiye joined the Fridays for the Future movement and was one of the young activists who led their fellow students and people of all ages to strike in order to wake up the world to the impacts of the climate emergency and to call on leaders like us to take action, before it’s too late.

In the time since, she has given much of herself the climate justice effort.  She mobilized 600 students from her school to join the March 2019 climate strike; she led a push for legislative change in her city and state; she launched a youth activism training program; she addressed the United Nations.

For Xiye, this isn’t a hobby; it’s a way of life.

Xiye is part of a rising generation of leaders who are pushing us to make the necessary changes that we have put off for too long.  She and her fellow young leaders have earned a seat at the table, not just because they will bear more of the consequences of climate change, or the world’s inaction on climate, but also because of the urgency, ingenuity, and total dedication that they have brought to this effort.

We’ve asked a lot of our young people; they’re delivering.  Now it’s time we ask more of ourselves.

Xiye comes from a line of environmental activists.  Her grandparents fought for decades to protect her indigenous nation’s sacred lands in Mexico.  Her parents were environmental advocates, too.  Something Xiye’s father told her continues to guide her activism to this day, and I quote: “Leave everything better than you found it.”

That’s also our responsibility.  It’s what this summit is all about, and it’s the underlying purpose behind all that we must do – in this crucial year, in this decisive decade.

If we act together, we can turn the need to reduce our emissions and adapt our communities into once-in-generations opportunity – to improve the lives of our people and build more just, equitable, and sustainable societies.

Xiye, thank you.  Thank you for all you’ve done to leave everything better than you found it.  We’re humbled and inspired by your service, and now we look forward to hearing from you.

More from: Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

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    Substance use disorders (SUD)—the recurrent use of alcohol or illicit drugs causing significant impairment—affected about 19.3 million adults in the United States in 2018, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. State Medicaid programs have the option to cover services offered by peer providers—individuals who use their own lived experience recovering from SUD to support others in recovery. GAO's review of Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission data found that, in 2018, 37 states covered peer support services for adults with SUDs in their Medicaid programs. Medicaid Coverage of Peer Support Services for Adults with Substance Use Disorders, 2018 Officials from the three states GAO reviewed—Colorado, Missouri, and Oregon—reported that their Medicaid programs offered peer support services as a complement, rather than as an alternative, to clinical treatment for SUD. Missouri officials said that peer providers did not maintain separate caseloads and were part of treatment teams, working in conjunction with doctors and other clinical staff. Similarly, officials in Colorado and Oregon said peer support services were only offered as part of a treatment plan. State officials reported that peer support services could be offered as an alternative to clinical treatment outside of Medicaid using state or grant funding. SUD treatment can help individuals reduce or stop substance use and improve their quality of life. In 2007, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recognized that peer providers could be an important component of effective SUD treatment, and provided guidance to states on how to cover peer support services in their Medicaid programs. However, states have flexibility in how they design and implement their Medicaid programs, and coverage for peer support services is an optional benefit. The Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act included a provision for GAO to report on peer support services under Medicaid. This report describes, among other objectives, the extent to which state Medicaid programs covered peer support services for adult beneficiaries with SUDs nationwide, and how selected state Medicaid programs offered peer support services for adult beneficiaries with SUDs. GAO obtained state-by-state data from the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission on 2018 Medicaid coverage of peer support services. GAO also reviewed information and interviewed officials from a nongeneralizable sample of three states, which GAO selected for a number of reasons, including to obtain variation in delivery systems used. The Department of Health and Human Services provided technical comments on a draft of this report, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact Carolyn L. Yocom at (202) 512-7114 or yocomc@gao.gov.
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  • Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Guy Benson of The Guy Benson Show
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Al-Thani
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Retirement Security: Other Countries’ Experiences with Caregiver Policies
    In U.S GAO News
    For over a decade, Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom (UK) have developed and implemented national approaches—including strategies, laws, and policies—to support family caregivers, according to experts GAO interviewed. Specifically, experts noted that these efforts could help caregivers maintain workforce attachment, supplement lost income, and save for retirement. As a result, their retirement security could improve. For example, experts said: Care leave allows employees to take time away from work for caregiving responsibilities. Australia's and Germany's policies allow for paid leave (10 days per year of work or instance of caregiving need, respectively), and all three countries allow for unpaid leave though the duration varies. Caregivers can receive income for time spent caregiving. Australia and the UK provide direct payments to those who qualify. Germany provides indirect payments, whereby the care recipient receives an allowance, which they can pass on to their caregiver. Other Countries' Policies to Support Caregivers Experts in all three countries cited some challenges with caregiver support policies. For example, paid leave is not available to all workers in Germany, such as those who work for small firms. In Australia and the UK, experts said eligibility requirements for direct payments (e.g., limits on hours worked or earnings) can make it difficult for someone to work outside their caregiving role. Experts in all three countries said caregivers may be unaware of available supports. For example, identifying caregivers is a challenge in Australia and the UK. As required under the RAISE Family Caregivers Act, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) convened the Family Caregiving Advisory Council (FCAC)—a stakeholder group that is to jointly develop a national family caregiving strategy. As of July 2020, HHS and the FCAC reported limited information on other countries' approaches, and neither entity had concrete plans to collect more. In September 2020, HHS officials provided sources they recently reviewed on selected policies in other countries, and they further noted that HHS staff, FCAC members, and collaborating partners have subject-matter expertise and bring perspectives about other countries' efforts into their discussions. Family caregivers play a critical role in supporting the elderly population, which is growing at a rapid rate worldwide. However, those who provide eldercare may risk their own long-term financial security. Other countries have implemented policies to support caregivers. In recognition of challenges caregivers face in the United States, Congress directed HHS, in consultation with other federal entities, to develop a national family caregiving strategy. GAO was asked to provide information about other countries' efforts that could improve the retirement security of parental and spousal caregivers. This report examines (1) other countries' approaches to support family members who provide eldercare, (2) challenges of these approaches, and (3) the status of HHS' efforts to develop a national family caregiving strategy. GAO conducted case studies of three countries—Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom—selected based on factors including rates of informal care (i.e., help provided to older family members or friends) and the types of policies they have that could improve caregivers' retirement security. GAO interviewed government officials and experts and reviewed relevant federal laws, research, and documents. GAO's draft report recommended that HHS collect additional information about other countries' experiences. In response, in September 2020, HHS provided an update on its efforts to do so. As a result, GAO removed the recommendation and modified the report accordingly. For more information, contact Tranchau (Kris) T. Nguyen at or nguyentt@gao.gov.
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