House passes coronavirus aid bill to guarantee free testing, strengthen the social safety net

Source: Nytimes

The novel coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic that started late December 2019 in Wuhan China quickly spread to other countries. The first case of this coronavirus wave was confirmed on January 21, 2020, and since then there has been exponential kind of infection rate. The increases cases call for urgent measures to be taken to limit its spread and cushion the victims of the disease from social and economic.

Trump threw his support behind the legislation which faced a vote in the House early Saturday morning, after announcing a national emergency over coronavirus and later designating this Sunday, March 15, a National Prayer Day.  

Source: Daily Mail

Thus, the U.S government through its congress and senate house came with three major proposals to curb the situation. A bipartisan legislative package was passed on 14th March after hours of intense negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Trump administration. The bill guarantees all of its citizen free coronavirus testing and expansion of paid sick days for the affected of workers.

The first bill package signed is being criticized as a byproduct of a compromised proposal of the administration, House Democrats and House Republicans. The bill said to be insufficient because it does not address key concerns nor covers all citizens as they were in the original proposal.

According to Anna a Vox reporter millions of workers are locked out and cannot benefits by the paid sick day and paid leave provisions in the legislation. Also, the legislation does not apply for a company that has more than 500 employees. Also, companies less than 50 employees may be exempted from the sick leave regulations and the bill’s paid as they are viewed as health care workers including hospitals and nursing.   

Despite the shortcoming, the legislation aims to provide economic relief for those workers that will be affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This targets those that have temporarily closed their business leading to a reduction of expenditure in hotels, restaurants, tourism and airline services. These strategies will cushion the affected citizens from the economic repercussion of the covid-19 outbreak.                

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What’s included in the legislation that just passed

The laws passed has funding support to ensure that those that get sick due to coronavirus are in a passion to get cash to acquire basic needs such as food, rent and medication bills that may not be covered in the insurance. Also, the funds resulting from the extra expense required to take care of the school children that have closed due to the covid-19 outbreak. The money also has intended to expand a program for those workers that have been laid off or lost their jobs due to closure of certain industries in response to limit the spread of the disease.  Below are the main inclusions of the legislation

1. Free coronavirus testing

Nancy Pelosi the speaker of the use presented the views of the democratic party to make coronavirus testing free as a way to make it accessible to unfortunate American that is yet to have medical insurance cover. The bill requires both public and private health insurers including Medicare and Medicaid to cater for the cost of testing, emergency room visits, inpatients as well as the doctor’s fees.  The Democratic proposal is meant to protect all American regardless of their social class or economic status. 

2. Emergency paid sick days

The proposed bill aims to cushion those workers that may be compelled to take leaver to avoid infection of the outbreak. In such circumstances, the bill compels the employer to pay the employees who go on leave due to such circumstances. However, the bill also allows workers to be paid in their salaries in case the decision to observe quarantine orders but still work from home for the equivalent time.

3. Emergency paid leave

The bill also creates a new federal emergency program to pay those that go on leave to take care of children that are at home due to coronavirus-related cases. Any eligible worker that will receive the amount will continue being a beneficiary for the three consecutive months. The programs will fund the victims up to two-thirds of employee average monthly earnings. However, those that receive unemployment compensation are not eligible as this is covered in the precedent 2008 financial crisis unemployment benefits act.

4. Expanded unemployment insurance: 

As discussed by the house of representative, the legislation will set aside $2 billion for a special insurance program that will cover the marginalized groups or the uninsured of citizen resulting from the coronavirus crisis. 

5. Expanding food security

The legislation will direct $1 billion to ensure excess to programs such as WIC, SNAP as well as the emergency food assistance for the entire period the coronavirus pandemic affects the American citizens.

The economic experts are in support of this legislation as they believe if the government will affect the safety net programs, it will be the effective method to stimulate economic growth since the low-income individual will be willing to spend the extra cash they get which will aid economy to stabilize due to increasing demand.  

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The signing of the legislature by President Trump and his administration is a good response in an attempt to compact the adverse effects coronavirus pandemic. Despite many gaps that are in the first and second package bill, the third package is yet to be concluded and the house of representative has assured American that all the limitation will be addressed in the third phase. Among the issue that it intends to address include small businesses, affected industries and financial support for workers.

Lastly, the government calls for all American to take precaution and heed to every advice from the government to avoid further spreading of the disease. This is to avoid a situation where the nation’s healthcare system could quickly become overwhelmed with gravely sick patients, as suddenly happened in Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus. To effectively fight the pandemic, it will call for adhering to measures including regular hand washing, social distancing, avoiding social gathering and staying at home to avoid travel contamination. With this measure, the Americans will finally overcome the pandemic.

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