By: Sally Goza, MD, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics
“The COVID-19 financial relief bill unveiled yesterday in the U.S. Senate falls far short of meeting the needs of children and families. This pandemic has laid bare inequities in our healthcare and education systems that this bill fails to address.
“While the legislation allocates funding for schools, more than two-thirds of it is contingent on schools re-opening for in-person instruction. Not only does this go against our own science-based recommendations to account for community spread of the virus in making the decision of when and how to re-open, but it also takes funding away from communities where the virus is surging, depriving them of the support they will need to prepare for a safe re-opening. This is a misguided approach that fails to provide the resources schools desperately need to keep their students, teachers and staff safe.
“This bill does not do enough to address the hardships families continue to face, such as losing homes, jobs, health care and access to adequate nutrition. Together, Medicaid and education account for more than half of state budgets, and without enhanced federal funding for state Medicaid programs, states will be left with no option but to implement drastic cuts to essential health and education programs.
“Sizeable new investments in SNAP and other child nutrition programs are essential to combatting the growing number of families who cannot afford to feed their children each day. The pandemic has also disproportionately impacted Black and Latinx populations, and we need strong policies that ensure all children and families can access the health care and economic supports they need.
“Right now, families are turning to the federal government for urgent support. We urge Congress to deliver it. Children deserve to be prioritized in federal decision-making.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds