Timely CBPP Analysis of the CARES Act

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a DC-based think tank, is my go-to for tax and budget policy analysis, especially for anything related to the social safety net and social insurance for low- and moderate-income individuals and families. CBPP has a new, timely report out analyzing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was signed into law yesterday.

Summary: The bill’s a good first step for cushioning an imminent recession, but Congress has plenty of work still cut out for itself, and more targeted fiscal support will still be needed. CBPP’s report highlights various omissions and shortcomings of the bill—not to give Congress a pass, but remember, it was cobbled together and enacted in just over a week—that will need to be rectified with more deliberate legislation targeted toward the nature of the public health crisis. From the report: “The next legislative package needs to continue improvements in unemployment benefits and provide additional fiscal relief for states, including a larger increase in the federal share of Medicaid costs, for as long as the economy remains weak. Otherwise, we risk under-sizing and turning off key stimulus measures too early, lengthening and deepening the recession.”

Recommended reading, via CBPP: 

One of those major shortcomings noted in CBPP’s report: “[The CARES Act] lacks any provisions to expand health coverage or pay for COVID-19-related treatment for the uninsured.” The Affordable Care Act (ACA) significantly expanded health care coverage and access in the United States, but as of 2018, roughly 28 million nonelderly people (10.4% of the nonelderly population) had no health insurance—a number and a share that’s been rising since 2016. In 2010, when the ACA was enacted, 46.5 million people (17.8% of the nonelderly population!) were without any semblance of health insurance. See this report by the Kaiser Family Foundation for more information about the uninsured population in the United States.

In many respects the U.S. is poised for a worse experience with this global pandemic than our advanced economy peers, in no small part because of the lack of universal health care coverage and the lack of paid sick leave in the United States. The fact that the U.S. has only 2.6 hospital beds per 1,000 people—lower than many advanced economy peers—despite spending a far greater, staggering 17.7% of GDP on healthcare is not unrelated to the former:

More from CBPP:



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