From both a public health and economic perspective, the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on our country. More than 210,000 people have died, more than 435,000 individuals have been hospitalized, and more than 10 million jobs have been lost nationally. The US economy was 10 percent smaller in June than it was last December and is not projected to fully recover until some point in 2021 at the earliest.
We recently had the honor of testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee on the effects of inaction on coronavirus fiscal legislation. One of us was invited by the Republicans and the other by the Democrats. The basis of the hearing was the Heroes Act, a $3 trillion bill that passed the House in the spring on a party line vote with about $1 trillion in tax cuts and $2 trillion in new spending.
Evidence from the initial coronavirus outbreaks within the United States has shown that the fate of nursing home residents is tightly linked to the severity of the virus within the nursing home’s state. With a “second wave” of COVID-19 in many southern states and a host of policy changes, it is worth investigating whether the evidence suggests this vulnerable group is now better protected.
Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have staked out positions on expanding the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), a refundable tax credit that provides temporary wage support to help employers retain or rehire workers.
Congress faces several critical choices before departing for their August recess. Should the $600-per-week additional unemployment insurance (UI) benefit (which has resulted in five of six workers earning more in unemployment benefits than wages) be extended, modified, or allowed to expire at the end of July?
As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept across our country and claimed more than 100,000 lives in a few short months, the opioid epidemic, which dates back to at least the early 2000s, has received less attention. But the toll of the opioid crisis in the United States remains enormous by any measure.
Nursing homes have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, but recently released data show that the severity of outbreaks in these facilities has varied substantially across the United States. Some have argued that policy decisions have driven the variation in outcomes observed in nursing homes, while a competing theory is that nursing home outbreaks largely mirror the surrounding area.
A large share of total COVID-19 deaths in the United States have occurred in nursing homes, prompting the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to begin reporting facility-level data on COVID-19 rates at nursing homes.
The first widely reported COVID-19 deaths in the United States were nursing home patients in Washington State on February 28. Numerous accounts of similar outbreaks soon followed, including 47 deaths at a nursing home in Minnesota (as of April 30), 54 deaths at a nursing home in Massachusetts (as of May 4), and 81 deaths at a facility in New Jersey (as of May 27).
Recent news about e-cigarette misuse has fueled both public misperception and policy responses that are likely to have unintended consequences. As the US vaping market continues to evolve, policymakers face the tricky challenge of safeguarding the potential for positive public health outcomes from e-cigarettes, which offer a lower-risk alternative to traditional cigarettes, while ensuring reasonable protections against youth use.