Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Policymakers are appropriately considering additional stimulus measures in the face of mounting job losses and other dire economic signs due to COVID-19, and a top item on their list should be raising SNAP (food stamp) benefits as a way of injecting fast, high “bang-for-the-buck” stimulus into the economy.
States facing increased demands on their Medicaid programs due to COVID-19 should streamline enrollment to expedite coverage for eligible families and minimize administrative burden for overwhelmed eligibility workers.
This week at CBPP, we focused on the federal budget, state budgets and taxes, the economy, health, food assistance, and Social Security.
One important form of the CARES Act’s aid for states is the Education Stabilization Fund, which provides them with $30.75 billion to support their K-12 and higher education systems in the coming months.
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.
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.
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.
By providing $8 billion for 574 federally recognized tribes in its $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund for tribal, state, local, and territorial governments, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act marked a historic federal recognition of tribes — contrasting sharply with the 2009 Recovery Act, which excluded tribes from its major state fiscal relief.
The Secretary of the Treasury and IRS Commissioner should make a clear public statement that seniors and people with disabilities who receive Social Security won’t have to file a tax return to receive their stimulus rebate.
While some states have responded to COVID-19 by quickly using Medicaid’s flexibilities to help people maintain their coverage and remove barriers to care, others are instead restricting Medicaid.
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.
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.
This week at CBPP, we focused on the economy, state budgets and taxes, health, food assistance, and the federal budget.
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.
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.
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.
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.