FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 10, 2020
CONTACT: Kathy Melley, (617) 791-0708
(BOSTON, MA) — Today, the U.S. Senate failed to advance a woefully insufficient ‘skinny’ coronavirus relief plan proposed by Senate Republicans that omits any fiscal support for states or families —no state and local aid, no funding for Medicaid and no meaningful economic support for individuals and families. The unsuccessful effort came after Senate Republicans refusal to negotiate with Senate and House Democrats, and more than a month of Senate inaction.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic has continued its deadly and devastating toll on families – especially Black and brown families – across the country. There is mounting evidence the virus is having an outsized effect on Black, Latinx and Indigenous (BIPOC) people as a result of systemic racism and the inadequacy of the government’s response to the crisis.
Instead of targeting relief where it is most needed, Senate Republican once again responded with a bill that prioritizes helping corporations over helping people. It does not come close to meeting the most pressing needs of families struggling with the dual economic and health impacts of the worst crises our country has faced in decades. The bill lacks investments in Medicaid to improve access to health care and meet increasing demand for coverage through the program. Failure to bolster the Medicaid program at the time when America needs it most has already led to harmful health care cuts at the state level. And the absence of fiscal relief for state and local government compounds the problem by putting additional pressure on states to cut health care and other critical services. The bill also lacks consumer protections from medical debt as a result of bills for testing and treatment for Covid-related care, which is a chief concern for people. And instead of enhancing financial support to help families stay afloat through the pandemic, the Senate GOP plan curtails unemployment benefits and provides no stimulus payments, no emergency rental assistance, and no emergency food support, most notably for children as they return to school.
Statement of Emily Stewart, executive director of Community Catalyst, in response to today’s Senate vote:
“Senate Republicans have settled for failure at the cost of peoples’ health and livelihood. Their ‘skinny package’ is beyond ‘skinny,’ it’s barebones when it comes to providing the relief that families need now to put food on the table, pay rent, access health care and ensure they don’t get saddled with massive health care bills and medical debt. Once again, Senate GOP leaders show how out of touch they are with the rest of the country by putting forward a bill that does nothing to provide the food, housing, economic and health security people desperately need now.
“It’s incomprehensible that in the midst a public health crisis that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and millions of jobs that the Senate Republican plan lacks any investment in health care. The House-passed HEROES Act, which includes additional funding for Medicaid, financial support for people who have lost their jobs, and support for essential workers, should have been the starting-point for the Senate bill. Medicaid and unemployment assistance work together to support people during crises like this one, providing millions with access to affordable health coverage. It is especially important for people of color, older people, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ people, communities which face unfair and discriminatory barriers to care.
“Families across the country are looking for bold, unprecedented action from government leaders to help them out of this crisis, and Senate Republican leaders failed to deliver. We urge Congress to come back together and work toward a comprehensive solution that makes needed investments in the housing, health care, nutrition and income assistance people need to get through this crisis healthy and whole.”
About Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is the largest non-profit national health advocacy organization dedicated to building a powerful movement for health equity and justice. Founded in 1998, we work with local, state, and national advocates to organize and sustain a powerful consumer voice so all individuals and communities can influence decisions that affect their health. For more information, go to www.communitycatalyst.org or follow us on Twitter @HealthPolicyHub.