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NJ Citizen Action: Proposed U.S. Senate HEALS Act fails New Jersey as a COVID-19 response

Insider NJ — July 28, 2020

New Jersey Citizen Action released the following statement today following the release the of proposed U.S. Senate HEALS Act.

"Senate Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans have failed to rise to a health and fiscal crisis which has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and devastated our state's economy," said Maura Collinsgru, Health Care Program Director for New Jersey Citizen Action. "The Senate HEALS Act fails to provide states like New Jersey with the cash infusion we need to keep vital programs and services running, especially health services that have become even more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. It would also put millions of people in harm's way by denying them the health coverage they need and the financial security they deserve in uncertain times.

"As our state elected leaders struggle to find funding to simply keep New Jersey running, additional federal support for Medicaid is essential to preventing coverage and enrollment cuts under the program. We need economic stimulus, and enhanced Medicaid funding is a proven tool to both save lives and help ensure a economic recovery from the pandemic. The Act's failure to invest in Medicaid, a safety-net program on which a growing number of our residents have come to rely on in the midst of massive job loss in this health crisis, hinders our state's efforts to keep people safe and fully recover from this pandemic. This is particularly harmful for New Jersey's people of color, who are more likely to lose coverage and to have a pre-existing condition that requires ongoing care well beyond testing and COVID-19 treatment.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed an unprecedented health and economic crisis that has most deeply impacted our communities of color, our immigrant communities and our most vulnerable workers and families. It requires an unprecedented response from Congress. The Senate should be working from the House-passed HEROES Act, which includes additional funding for Medicaid, financial support for people who have lost their jobs, and support for essential workers. Medicaid and unemployment assistance work together to support people during crises like this one, and the Senate bill fails on both counts. The HEROES Act also removes unfair barriers to financial support for immigrants, who disproportionately help their communities as essential workers and pay both federal and local taxes. Now is not the time for an incomplete or halfhearted response. This crisis requires bold, courageous action from our leaders in Washington."

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