CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship, April 28, 2023


April 28, 2023

COVID-19 HardshipApril 28, 2023 

The debt ceiling hostage edition. America is being held hostage. House Republicans this week passed a measure that would cause permanent, lasting damage to a wide array of critical human needs programs – everything from health care to child care to housing to nutrition assistance to climate change. In passing this legislation, which will not advance in the Senate in its current form, House Republicans are teetering on the precipice of default on the national debt, which would cost millions of jobs and almost immediately plunge the nation – and perhaps the world – into a recession. 

And time is running out. Moody’s Analytics originally had speculated that the U.S. would pass the debt ceiling in mid-August. But the outlook has worsened. “With April tax receipts coming in weaker than expected, at least so far, it appears that the x-date, when the Treasury will run out of the cash needed to pay the government’s bills on time, may hit as soon as early June,” the company now says. 

Meanwhile, suffering is on the rise as Americans struggle to make ends meet. Food banks throughout the nation and anti-hunger advocates are warning that demand is rising because of inflation and the end of a temporary expansion of nutrition assistance benefits that was in place during the first few years of the pandemic. Four food banks told Reuters that demand is up between 46 percent and 125 percent since last spring, and that visits to their pantries are as high or higher than at the height of the pandemic. 

We need to be heard, and to help others speak out, too. CHN is circulating a letter to be signed by organizations demanding that members of Congress support investments in our people and a responsible approach to the federal budget, including a clean increase in or suspension of the debt ceiling. If your local, state, or national organization has not signed the letter, please encourage someone authorized to do so. To read the letter and see a list of signers so far, click here. People authorized to sign for the group should click here. 



The number of jobs Moody’s Analytics says will be lost by the end of next year if the House-passed debt ceiling proposal becomes law. Tweet this.



Between 900,000 and 1 million SNAP recipients would be at risk of losing benefits if the House proposal becomes law. Tweet this.


¼/ 62%-91% 
10m /0 

When Arkansas imposed a work requirement for Medicaid similar to the new House-passed bill, one in four of those subject to it lost Medicaid in just 7 months. Research indicates that the bureaucratic hurdles of work requirements in Medicaid would mean 62% – 91% of those losing coverage will really still be eligible (either because they are working or should be exempt). At least 10 million people in Medicaid expansion states will be subject to the House Medicaid work rules.  When Arkansas tried the work rules, there was no uptick in employment. Tweet this.


1.18 million women and young children in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) would lose benefits if the House bill became law and only domestic/international programs bear the cuts (sparing the Pentagon and veterans’ services). Tweet this.



At least 170,000 Head Start slots for children and 101,000 child care slots would be eliminated. The loss in Head Start slots means low-income children would begin school ill-prepared to learn and less likely to succeed academically. The loss in child care slots means many parents would be unable to attend school or go to work. Tweet this.


1 million 

As many as 1 million Texans are expected to lose Medicaid coverage over the next 8 months as the state pares its rolls. Congress actually has given states 12 to 14 months to complete eligibility checks, but Texas plans to complete the process in 8 months, even though it lacks sufficient employees to process the heavy caseload.



Although COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths are all on the decline, the U.S. is still seeing roughly 100,000 new infections each week and more than 150 deaths a day.



Food bank Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, CA served 480,000 people in March – up 92 percent from one year ago. “It feels like we’ve moved on from the pandemic,” said CEO Leslie Bacho. “But for food banks, we’re still deep in a crisis.”



According to the latest Household Pulse survey data, collected March 29 through April 10, 10.9 percent of households sometimes or often did not have enough to eat during the previous 7 days. For Hispanics, it was 18.3 percent; Blacks, 17.4 percent; Whites, 7.9 percent; and Asians, 4.8 percent. For people with children, it was 13.5 percent, compared to 9.4 percent for people with no children in their household.



The same survey found that 38.7 percent of people found it somewhat or very difficult to meet usual household expenses during the previous 7 days. For Hispanics, it was 49.6 percent; Blacks, 47.7 percent; Whites 34.0 percent; and Asians, 31.7 percent. For people with children, it was 44.8 percent, compared to 35.0 percent of people in households with no children.