Letter to Congress on the Economic Stimulus Efforts Related to COVID-19
On March 20th, Children’s HealthWatch sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader McCarthy, Majority Leader McConnell, and Minority Leader Schumer on the economic stimulus efforts related to novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Children’s HealthWatch commends efforts to respond to this crisis through paid family leave, expanded access to nutrition assistance, and public health funding. However, we recognize that more measures are necessary to reduce current and future threats to health. Children’s HealthWatch therefore recommends the following policy improvements be included in any package designed to mitigate the effects of this crisis:
- Issuing direct cash transfers until the economy recovers that are directed to families with the lowest incomes and provides equal or higher payments for children recognizing that families with children – particularly those with young children – are at greater risk of poverty than other households without children.
- Establishing a national Emergency Assistance Fund to provide rapid response funding for families with rent or utility arrearages is necessary to ensure families are not at risk of eviction or utility shutoffs as a result of the economic crisis.
- Placing a nationwide moratorium on all evictions and foreclosures during the national emergency will not only protect public health by closing housing courts, which are often crowded, but also keep families in their homes in order to avoid families needing to double up or access homeless shelters, both of which place people further at risk of COVID-19 transmission.
- Increasing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by at least 13.6% for all participants, as was done during the Great Recession, until the economy recovers to adequately meet the nutritional needs of families with low-incomes and reduce food insecurity. SNAP is a counter-cyclical program designed to respond to disasters and economic downturns. During the Great Recession the benefit boost for all participants effectively reduced food insecurity across the country and improved the health of young children and families.
- Expanding access to affordable and adequate health insurance options so all families, including children and adults regardless of immigration status, are able to access medical care, prescriptions, and vaccines when they need them without having to sacrifice other basic needs is critical during this national public health crisis as well as between epidemics.