Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) Thursday released a list of priorities for the urgently needed federal response to fighting COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. Congress’s third emergency response bill is expected in the coming week.
“A global pandemic impacts all of us, no matter your nationality, beliefs, or abilities. This coronavirus emergency relief policy framework makes sure our most vulnerable are not left behind and puts resources where we need them most. As we continue to work on relief bills for families, we must keep these priorities at the front of our minds,” said Maloney.
In addition to providing direct-cash assistance targeted at lower- and middle-income Americans through the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act of 2020, Maloney’s policy framework includes provisions to:
Fully Fund Frontline Health Care Workers and Heath Systems
- Hospitals, Clinics and Community Health Centers do not have a sustainable number of supplies and personal protective equipment to test and treat coronavirus patients. We need to fully fund these efforts.
- Community Health Centers serve millions of Americans annually, including the uninsured and people on Medicaid - yet they are testing and treating coronavirus patients without full or long-term funding. Funding for all Community Health Centers will expire on May 22, 2020.
- Congress should establish a fund similar to the James Zadroga 9/11 Fund to ensure first responders are not bearing the cost of working on the COVID-19 response.
- First responders and frontline healthcare workers should have access to a dedicated fund that provides access to vouchers for childcare.
Protect Vulnerable Populations
- A future relief package must ensure aid is provided to state homelessness agencies to ensure medical supplies are available to assist people living without long-term shelter.
- Over half, 60 percent, of people living with HIV in the United States are over age 50 or older and are at greater risk. Waivers on refill limits for maintenance drugs, inclusive of antiretrovirals must be allowed.
- Information on the virus must be made accessible to people of all abilities. A database specifically for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to track and monitor COVID-19 must be created.
- Provide dedicated unemployment resources for people with disabilities that lose their jobs as a result of social distancing and pandemic-caused economic disruption.
- Provide online mental health support, as the effects of isolation on people with I/DD can be profound.
- Provide alternative delivery options for people who use SNAP and are unable to leave their homes.
Support Veterans’ Care
- Many of the nation’s veterans rely on the VA for most of their health care needs. Congress must ensure the VA system has the resources it needs to test, process and treat for the coronavirus.
Increase Funds for Transportation
- Congress must provide funds to help transit systems and commuter railroads, like Metro-North and the MTA. These transit systems are facing decreased revenues and face increased overhead costs resulting from increased sanitation efforts.
Support our Farmers
- Emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits should be expanded and include people recently laid off and those put on a “zero-hour” work schedule.
- Disaster-SNAP must be expanded.
Utilize Military Medical Response
- Military medical specialists should be routed to cities and health system throughout hard hit areas, especially as more health care workers become ill.
Give our Students the Tools They Need
- Nearly 12 million students across the country lack reliable internet access at home. We must bridge the gap between these students and their peers and provide Wi-Fi hotspots to homes without broadband.
- Congress must infuse funding into state education agencies to support distance learning.
- Mortgage, utility payments, evictions and foreclosures must be frozen.
- Consumer protections must be provided for outstanding contracts for weddings, funerals, and other disrupted events.