America is experiencing an unprecedented dual economic and public health care crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, recovery from the economic, public health and employment impact of the virus will take years. The UAW supported passage of five bi-partisan COVID-19 bills (four of which have become law) to combat the virus and help workers, communities and businesses stay afloat as unemployment increases and the number of COVID-19 cases rises. Much more work remains to be done to get our country back on the road to economic recovery and ensure that workers are healthy and safe.
Make testing widely available to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Ensure a strong national public health system. Funding must be made available to hospitals and health care systems broadly to ensure our country is prepared to respond to public health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Restore funding to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Funding is essential to preventing further outbreaks and managing disease and global health.
Replenish the National Emergency Medical Stockpile. The stockpile was left unprepared for the coronavirus and efforts to bulk up the stockpile fell victim to partisanship.
Support the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Ensuring access to affordable health care to all citizens is crucial. We must close the gap between insured and uninsured. Access to health care is even more paramount during a pandemic.
Support for the House-passed Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The HEROES Act would strengthen workplace protections by requiring Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect frontline workers from contracting COVID-19. HEROES would also help states, localities, and territories with nearly $1 trillion in aid, protect workers by extending unemployment insurance, and provide full COBRA benefits to workers who have been laid off.
Support greater use of the Defense Production Act (as part of the HEROES Act) to ensure we have the medical supplies and personal protective equipment we need to stop the spread of this pandemic. States would no longer be forced to bid against each other and the federal government to acquire emergency supplies. Implement a comprehensive, coordinated plan to respond to the COVID-19 crisis which starts with large scale testing, ensuring that frontline workers are safe, and increasing production of PPE which has been in short supply throughout the crisis.
Ensure affordable or free coronavirus testing for all.
Ensure that drug companies are not allowed to price gouge COVID-19 drug treatments and vaccinations once developed.
When COVID-19 hit the U.S., it was ill-equipped to respond to the public health crisis.
This hasn’t always been the case. In the past, when polio and other epidemics threatened our nation, our government and citizens understood that a combination of planning and funding was needed to keep Americans healthy. With leadership from the federal government, scientists, and doctors, federal laws were passed to protect food, air and water from contamination, and national campaigns provided education and health screenings to the masses to combat disease, general health related issues and other threats to public health.
Those protective and proactive systems have been eroded.
In 2018, due to the administrations’ decisions, the CDC was forced to cut 80% of its programs to prevent global disease. Luckily, Congress provided other funding, but the CDC was forced to scale back the work it did in other countries going from working in 49 countries to just 10. Significantly, China was one of the countries cut from the list.
In addition, over the past 2.5 years:
The entire global-health-security unit of the National Security Council was shut down. This unit is primarily charged with combating flu pandemics.
The U.S. federal government’s $30 million Complex Crises Fund was eliminated. This fund provided much needed aid to prevent and respond to emerging and unforeseen crises.
This was coupled with a barely recovered system from the 2008 Great Recession, which caused serious budget problems for federal, state and local governments. Federal funding to help state and local governments prepare for a crisis like the coronavirus fell by more than 10% between 2010 and 2019 and state and local health departments lost more than 55,000 jobs – one-fifth of their workforce.
Across the U.S. there are 55,000 less health care workers available to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Preserving and strengthening the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Build a national plan to effectively deal with the current COVID-19 crisis and for emerging global health pandemics.
Ensuring affordable or free coronavirus testing for all.
Ensuring that drug companies do not profit off the pandemic.
Ensuring a strong national public health system that is prepared to respond more effectively to a global health crisis.
Ensuring workers are protected to the greatest extent possible. OSHA has failed to make employers implement comprehensive plans to guard the safety of their workforce.
Restoring funding to CDC, WHO, NIH and programs such as the global health unit of the National Security Council, the Complex Crises Fund, and Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement.
Supporting the House-passed Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act.
Supporting greater use of the Defense Production Act.
DEMOCRAT – Joseph Biden and COVID-19
During the Obama-Biden administration, the U.S. established a Global Health Security Agenda, which has been neglected. A Biden administration intends to reinvigorate and expand this agenda.
Joe Biden has experience fighting epidemics. In 2014, he successfully helped lead the Obama-Biden administration’s response to the Ebola crisis, working with governors, Congress and businesses.
Joe Biden has a robust plan to deal with COVID-19, keeping workers safe and effectively dealing with any second wave. Biden supports making sure all frontline workers have personal protection equipment, paid sick leave and COBRA subsidies, and an OSHA temporary standard that truly protects workers. He wants to restore White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, which was eliminated in 2018, and utilize the Defense Production Act to ensure the country has enough essential supplies and equipment.
Establish and manage a permanent, professional, sufficiently resourced public health and first responder system that protects the American people by:
scaling up biomedical research
deploying rapid testing capacity
ensuring robust nationwide disease surveillance
sustaining a first class public health and first responder workforce
establishing a flexible emergency budgeting authority
mobilizing the world to ensure greater sustained preparedness for future pandemics
The Biden Plan calls for:
Mounting an effective national emergency response that saves lives, protects frontline workers, and minimizes the spread of COVID-19.
Eliminating cost barriers for prevention of and care for COVID-19.
Ensuring that every person who needs a test can get one – and that testing for those who need it is free.
Establishing at least 10 mobile testing sites and drive-through facilities per state to speed testing and protect health care workers.
Pursuing decisive economic measures to help hard-hit workers, families, and small businesses and to stabilize the American economy.
Rallying the world to confront this crisis while laying the foundation for the future.
Tasking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to help establish a diagnosis code for COVID-19 on an emergency basis so that surveillance can be done using claims data.
Ensuring the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority are swiftly accelerating the development of rapid diagnostic tests, therapeutics and medicines, and vaccines.
Working with businesses to expand production of personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves, and additional products such as bleach and alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Tasking the U.S. Department of Justice with combating price gouging for critical supplies.
Taking steps in the aftermath of the crisis to produce American-sourced and manufactured pharmaceutical and medical supply products in order to reduce our dependence on foreign sources that are unreliable in times of crisis.
Providing the resources necessary be allocated according to a formula: 45% to state governments; 45% to local governments; and 10% reserved for special assistance for “hot-spots” of community spread.
The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the importance of supporting candidates that have a plan to effectively respond to a national emergency.
Vote for candidates who have a plan to effectively deal with the current COVID-19 crisis and emerging global health pandemics. This plan should consist of ensuring that workers have access to affordable, health care; workplaces are required to adhere to OSHA health and safety standards; large scale testing is widely available; a national coordinated plan is implemented to manufacture personal protective equipment and testing kits; there is a plan to revive the economy.
Support the ACA.
Support the House-passed HEROES Act.