COVID-19 Health Care Crisis
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the country this winter and spring, we saw stores, restaurants, bars, and theaters - pillars of our small business community - close to the public to reduce the outbreak.
We've heard from countless small business members in the last several months about how this crisis is impacting them. Many have reduced operations and others have unfortunately needed to lay off or furlough staff. Several have told us they plan to continue paying for their employees' health insurance for as long as they possibly can.
Experts say that upward of 35 million people will lose their health insurance during this crisis.
While states have shown unique leadership in this crisis, the federal response has been lacking, unfocused, and insufficient.
This crisis has revealed the fragility of our national economy. About 40% of all Americans are one paycheck away from poverty. Tens of millions of people have no health insurance and countless more are under-insured. Lay-offs and business closings have only made those numbers balloon.
Our first concern as an organization is that everyone is safe and healthy.
If you are a business owner looking for COVID-19 relief through state and federal programs, we recommend visiting the Small Business Administration’s website for details on what help may be available.
Congress is also debating a number of bills that would cover the growing number of workers without health insurance during this pandemic. All these bills take different approaches on how to accomplish this.
The proposal that Business Leaders for Health Care Transformation find the most value in is the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act, sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal. This proposal would cover all of the uninsured residents in the United States under Medicare until a COVID-19 vaccine was available. You can read our analysis of the proposal here (link to BLHCT white paper).
Rep. Jayapal has also partnered with Rep. Joe Kennedy to propose the Medicare Crisis Program Act, which would enroll all newly unemployed people directly into Medicare for the duration of the crisis. You can learn more about that proposal at the Congresswoman’s website.
The proposal that our organization finds lacking is the Worker Health Coverage Protection Act, which is sponsored by Democratic leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill would fully subsidize COBRA benefits for the newly uninsured. While this would maintain a level of consistent coverage for these workers, it also amounts to a massive financial giveaway to the private health insurance companies. Medicare is a more effective and cost efficient alternative to employer sponsored health insurance.