Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Stimulus Package: Relief vs. Reform

From the Institute for Public Accuracy,

Co-editor of the two-volume "Poverty in the United States: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics and Policy" and author of "Welfare's End," Gwendolyn Mink said today:

"The stimulus package currently working its way through Congress would temporarily extend Medicaid eligibility to unemployed workers who are receiving unemployment insurance. Though much-needed and welcomed, Medicaid expansion does not repair the tattered safety net. It is a relief measure, by definition short-term and palliative. The COBRA proposal would expand COBRA eligibility for long-term workers and for workers over age 55 who lose their jobs. Though a useful health insurance bridge between jobs or until Medicare kicks in at age 65, the COBRA proposal advances a privatized solution to health coverage rather than expanding the safety net to guarantee health care for all. Neither health proposal takes us toward universal health care, and so neither proposal renews or redesigns the social contract -- unless palliative crisis intervention is meant to replace durable social protections that promote the long-term economic security of individuals.

"If the president and Congress truly are interested in repairing the safety net, they would immediately lift the time limits on welfare eligibility so that poor families can survive hard times. If the president and Congress truly are interested in universal health care, they would expand Medicare rather than tinker with Medicaid and COBRA. If the president and Congress truly are interested in investing in the economic security of all Americans, they would start by assuring that the stimulus package assists everyone -- including women, who need reproductive health care, living-wage jobs, comparable pay, and recognition for caregiving."