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Coronavirus Response Roundup

April 3, 2020 at 2:45 PM
BY
CBPP

Here are the CBPP statements, papers, blog posts, and tweet threads to date on issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic; we’ll update this list as we issue more analyses.

April 3

How Much Will States Receive Through the Education Stabilization Fund in the CARES Act?

The new bipartisan economic stimulus legislation — known as the CARES Act — contains significant new resources to help states address massive, immediate budget problems due to COVID-19, though states will almost certainly need more aid in coming months. . . .

April 2

Next Step on Stimulus Rebates: Automatic Delivery for People Receiving SSI and Veterans’ Benefits

It’s welcome news that Treasury and the IRS will use the authority that Congress gave them to automatically provide stimulus payments to Social Security and railroad retirement beneficiaries who do not usually file a tax return, instead of making them file one. It’s imperative that they do the same for some 3 million very low-income seniors and people with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), as well as more than 200,000 low-income recipients of certain veterans benefits, many of whom could face real difficulties filing a return and therefore could miss out on crucial stimulus payments. . . .

States Start Grappling With Hit to Tax Collections

COVID-19 has triggered a state budget crisis. States, tribes, and local governments are incurring huge new costs as they seek to contain and treat the coronavirus and respond to the virus-induced spike in joblessness and related human needs. At the same time, they are projecting sharply lower tax revenues due to the widespread collapse of economic activity brought about by the virus’ spread and needed containment activities. The federal stimulus bills to date include fiscal relief — but it’s already clear that it will fall far short of what states, tribes, and localities will need. . . .

Unemployed Workers Can Get SNAP During Health Emergency

There’s confusion about whether unemployed workers not raising minor children in their home can get SNAP, given Trump Administration efforts to tighten a rule limiting them to three months of benefits and a new law temporarily suspending that rule due to the coronavirus emergency. Fortunately, the temporary suspension means they can get SNAP throughout the current health emergency. . . .

Most States Are Easing SNAP Participation Rules; Many Have Opted to Provide Added Benefits

States have jumped on new flexibilities they have under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to help manage rising SNAP (food stamp) administrative demands and ensure that participants maintain much-needed benefits. Many states have also taken advantage of the Act’s option to provide benefit supplements during the pandemic to deliver more food assistance to struggling families, and we encourage all states to do so. . . .

March 30

Congress Should Reject Attempts to Weaken Medicaid Protections Enacted in Bipartisan COVID-19 Response Bill

States received a significant temporary increase in federal Medicaid funding in the bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which was signed into law on March 18. In exchange for this increase in federal funding, they can’t impose new Medicaid eligibility restrictions, or take away people’s coverage, during the public health emergency. Now, some policymakers are trying to weaken or eliminate these beneficiary protections, after failing in an effort to do so in the newly enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Congress should again reject these attempts, which could cost hundreds of thousands of people (or more) their health insurance in the midst of a pandemic and severe economic downturn. . . .

March 27

How Will States and Localities Divide the Fiscal Relief in the Coronavirus Relief Fund?

The new bipartisan economic stimulus legislation — known as the CARES Act — contains significant new resources to help states address massive, immediate budget problems due to COVID-19, though states will almost certainly need more aid in coming months. . . .

CARES Act Includes Essential Measures to Respond to Public Health, Economic Crises, But More Will Be Needed

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which has passed both the Senate and the House, includes important provisions to mitigate the sharp economic decline already unfolding. But policymakers’ efforts should not end with this bill. They will need to do substantially more in subsequent bills to address urgent needs in areas like health coverage, food assistance for struggling families, and state fiscal relief. . . .

Latest Coronavirus Response Package Doesn’t Boost SNAP — the Next One Should

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which President Trump is expected to sign soon, doesn’t expand benefits or eligibility under SNAP (food stamps). Policymakers must address this limitation in their next stimulus measure, both to help the growing number of families struggling to afford food in the pandemic and because SNAP is one of the fastest, most effective forms of economic stimulus. . . .

March 26

How Much Each State Will Receive From the Coronavirus Relief Fund in the CARES Act

The new bipartisan economic stimulus legislation — known as the CARES Act — contains significant new resources to help states address their massive, immediate budget problems due to COVID-19, though states will almost certainly need more aid in coming months. . . .

Greenstein: Relief Package Includes Important Aid, But More Needed to Meet Urgent Needs

The bipartisan Senate COVID-19 package includes important provisions that will help mitigate the sharp economic decline now starting. The House should pass it and then Congress should begin work on another bill to address critical missing pieces. Meeting this crisis will demand a sustained response by all of us — and Congress is no exception. Lawmakers will need to do substantially more in subsequent bills to address urgent needs in areas like health coverage and food assistance for struggling families. . . .

State budgets and #COVID19, a thread. / 1

No matter what we look like, where we live, or what’s in our wallets, getting sick reminds us that we’re all human. Here’s what’s happening with state budgets and #COVID19 and how states can respond in ways that reduce existing inequities and protect struggling families. / 2 . . . .

State-by-state data on the impact of #COVID19, focusing on state economies and budgets.

How many adults are at risk of serious illness if infected with #coronavirus? via

@kff . . . .

Thread: There’s a lot to be happy about in this #COVID19 package with regards to helping people with low incomes access a place to live. Like $4 billion to help those experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.

But, if the #COVID19 crisis worsens as experts expect, we’ll need more than we expected even two weeks ago. . . .

March 25

Bipartisan Stimulus Agreement Contains Significant Funds for States

The emerging bipartisan agreement on the Senate’s economic emergency legislation contains very significant new resources to help states address their massive, immediate budget problems due to COVID-19, though it almost certainly doesn’t go far enough. Congress will need to come back and provide more help to states and families affected by the crisis, as some policymakers have already called for. . . .

Let me expand on my earlier tweet ☟
Stacy Dean
@deancbpp · 27m

Lots of confusion around whether COVID-19 deal improves SNAP. In a word -- No. It’s a technical change to cover current law. SNAP applications are on the rise; so more funding is needed. But deal does not expand benefits as we recommended. Mistake to say "SNAP got $15.8b"

It’s a technical change to pay for existing benefits that the federal government is already required to provide under current law. SNAP applications are on the rise; so more funding is needed to meet those existing legal obligations. . . .

Thread: Language in leaked draft of the Senate COVID-19 bill could cause hundreds of thousands of people to lose #Medicaid during the public health crisis by weakening the “maintenance of effort” provision in the bipartisan Families First Act. 1/

Families First increases #Medicaid state match and requires that states maintain coverage for current beneficiaries and those that become eligible during the crisis. 2/ . . . .

March 24

House Dems’ 3rd COVID-19 bill includes policies to strengthen health coverage programs entirely missing from latest McConnell draft. These aren’t just “related” to public health & economic crises; they’re crucial to the response

First, robust increases in federal Medicaid matching rates (FMAP). 2nd COVID-19 response bill provided an important but modest increase, nowhere near what will likely be needed 2/ . . . .

March 23

Thread on the current Senate GOP #COVID19 response bill: It doesn’t include nearly enough emergency relief for states. Without more relief, states will take actions that hurt people & are a serious additional drag on the economy.
As the economy rapidly deteriorates, states face dire budget challenges. Unless they receive substantial emergency federal aid *now*, states will soon start laying off teachers & other public employees & cut spending in other ways - making emerging recession much worse. . . .

Thread on the Senate GOP #COVID19 /economic response bill. It now has broader direct stimulus payments (“recovery rebates”) than 1st version, but leaves out 2 groups:
(1) dependents who aren’t minor children under age 17, including many adults with serious disabilities & elderly people; (2) people in many immigrant families, including many U.S. citizen children. Final package should fix both. . . .

Thread: Senate GOP #COVID19 /response bill would exclude non-profit providers who receive #Medicaid payments from small business loans for small businesses that don’t lay off their workers.
Non-profits provide critical health care services to #Medicaid beneficiaries especially seniors & people w/ disabilities who rely on non-profits for home care & other long-term services & supports. . . . .

Final stimulus/ #COVID19 response package should include a 15% increase in the basic SNAP benefit level. This is good for struggling families that will face increasing difficulties making ends meet and good for a sputtering economy that needs a boost in consumer demand.
We know that the economic impact of this crisis will be overwhelming and long-lasting. Goldman Sachs projected that we could see an increase from 281,000 claims the week of March 8 to 2,250,000 the week of March 15 – a jump by almost 10 fold. . . .

USDA, States Must Act Swiftly to Deliver Food Assistance Allowed by Families First Act
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides temporary new authority and broad flexibility for the Agriculture Department (USDA) and states to adapt the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) to address people’s food needs during the current public health emergency and economic shock from the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA and states need to act quickly and aggressively to fully utilize SNAP in order to protect public health and mitigate hardship. . . .

March 22

The latest #COVID19 response bill, which Senate Republicans released today, falls well short of what’s needed in multiple areas.
Here is a quick list of glaring gaps that must be addressed as negotiations continue:

#1 The latest proposal omits any measures to expand health coverage or cover #COVID19 treatment for those who are uninsured. We must avoid having millions of uninsured people who can’t afford treatment. . . .

March 21

Low-Income People Must Be Eligible for Stimulus Payments — and Actually Receive Them
Stimulus payments need to reach as many low-, moderate-, and middle-income households as possible to soften the COVID-19 pandemic’s financial blow to individuals and shore up the economy. That means that lawmakers must not only make low- and moderate-income people eligible for the full payments; they must also ensure that the government delivers the payments without imposing new requirements on individuals to file tax returns or fill out and submit other complex paperwork. . . .

Thread: Broad stimulus payments in #COVID19 response bill (some call them “Recovery Rebates”) need to *get to* people who don’t file tax returns — including many low-income people, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities — not just to tax filers.
That means two things:

1. Policymakers need to make everyone up to some income limit eligible for the payments and. . . .

March 20

When Helping Retailers, Don’t Forget Their Workers
Amid the frenzy in Washington to enact broad stimulus legislation, Senate Republicans are also proposing to address a tax issue that far predates the current economic emergency: an error in the 2017 tax law that affects the restaurant and retail industries. If policymakers plan to help retailers and restaurant owners by fixing the error — and including the fix in the emerging stimulus legislation — they also should take the opportunity to provide much-needed help for the millions of low-wage workers who wait the tables and sell the products in those establishments. . . .

Senate GOP Response to Pandemic, Recession Is Seriously Inadequate
The Senate Republican proposal for a third bill to address the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis is woefully inadequate to meet the extraordinary challenges now facing the nation. Its centerpiece — direct cash payments to households — would miss the lowest-income households entirely and give millions of low- and moderate-income households much less than those who are better off. And the proposal ignores the dire need to expand health coverage, help those who have lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet, avert a rise in evictions and homelessness, and close the large state budget shortfalls that will soon emerge. . . .

Alert: long thread ahead on the increased demand for #UnemploymentInsurance (UI) in the wake of #COVID19
The Department of Labor yesterday reported that — last week — initial unemployment insurance claims jumped 33% over the previous week, from 211,000 to 281,000. And that was before states started reporting massive increases (which started this week). https://dol.gov/ui/data.pdf . . .

Some States Much Better Prepared Than Others for Recession
As the widely expected recession sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic takes hold, the impact in some states will be unnecessarily harsh — especially if the recession is relatively deep — due to the state’s failure to adopt policies that support families and communities during a downturn, our review of state policies in four key areas finds. More specifically, people in states with inadequate budget reserves, weak unemployment insurance systems, relatively inaccessible Medicaid programs, and/or expensive higher education systems are particularly likely to struggle during the recession if they lose their jobs or enter the recession looking for work with few family resources to support them. Mississippi is the most poorly prepared. It’s the only state that ranks in the bottom ten across all four categories, while Florida, Louisiana, New Hampshire, and South Dakota rank among the worst in three categories. That said, every state likely will face significant budget gaps in the coming months, even those best prepared for the downturn, and will need aggressive help from the federal government. . . .

Interactive Map: Some States Much Better Prepared Than Others for Recession

March 19

Medicaid Agencies Should Prioritize New Applications, Continuity of Coverage During COVID-19 Emergency
States facing increased demands on their Medicaid programs due to COVID-19 should prioritize enrolling people in Medicaid and making sure they can stay enrolled. The new Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires states to take some steps in this direction, but they can and should do more. . . .

Commentary: Deficit and Debt Shouldn’t Factor Into Coronavirus Recession Response
COVID-19 represents both a public health emergency and an economic crisis. While federal, state, and local governments must take strong steps to stem the spread of the virus — from continuing to close schools, restaurants, and workplaces and limit the size of gatherings, to ensuring that everyone has access to health care and can be tested and treated — federal policymakers must respond just as aggressively to the economic crisis. The risks of doing too little to support families and the economy far outweigh the risks of doing too much. . . .

Immediate and Robust Policy Response Needed in Face of Grave Risks to the Economy
The necessary public health measures that the nation is taking to reduce the spread of COVID-19, coupled with high levels of uncertainty about how long these measures — or even more serious ones — will need to remain in effect, are making a sharp economic decline very likely, with many economists noting that the economy is almost surely already in recession. . . .

March 18

Families First Will Strengthen States’ Ability to Address Rising Food Needs
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act — which the House passed, and the President is expected to sign — will give states broad, temporary flexibility and authority to supplement and modify SNAP (food stamps) and other nutrition programs during the current public health emergency. . . .

Governors’ Coronavirus Plans Must Protect Nutrition for Pregnant Women, Young Children
Governors can use the flexibility that the pending Families First Coronavirus Response Act would give them to ensure that WIC benefits remain accessible even if COVID-19 concerns keep WIC clinics closed or parents away. The bill, already passed by the House, is expected to be enacted this week. . . .

March 13

Coronavirus Response Should Include Urgent Fiscal Policy Measures to Address Financial Hardship, Stave Off a Severe Recession
The COVID-19 pandemic demands an aggressive direct public health response to contain and treat the virus and strengthen health system capacity. Once policymakers enact legislation that House leaders are now negotiating with the Administration, Congress should move quickly to take further bold steps to achieve the dual and related aims of lessening the threat of a major recession and cushioning the financial blow for millions of Americans, including measures to shore up consumer purchasing power by addressing the loss of income that millions of workers likely will face in the period ahead. . . .

March 12

Medicaid Funding Boost for States Can’t Wait
The House COVID-19 bill’s temporary Medicaid funding boost, if in effect for all of calendar year 2020, would deliver roughly $35 billion in immediate, needed relief to states, which will face growing costs due to the virus and a likely economic downturn. (See table for state-by-state estimates.) Similar measures have been a critical part of economic stimulus packages under both Democratic and Republican administrations, and policymakers should approve the increase as soon as possible. . . .

March 10

Far Better Ways Than Payroll Tax Cut to Contain Virus’s Economic Damage
The threat of a COVID-19 pandemic demands not only an aggressive public health response to contain and treat the virus’s health impacts, but also an aggressive fiscal policy response to try to avert a major recession, which is now a distinct possibility. The Trump Administration has suggested trying to shore up the economy through a payroll tax cut, but direct, immediate stimulus payments — like those made with bipartisan support when recession threatened in 2008 — would do far more to reduce immediate hardship and buttress an economy that faces serious risk. Such measures — along with strengthening Medicaid coverage, unemployment insurance, nutrition assistance, and paid sick leave — would deliver assistance quickly to people struggling to get by, who will spend virtually all of the additional resources they receive and thereby help keep consumer purchases from declining too sharply and sending the economy downhill. . . .


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