COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship, December 16, 2022


December 16, 2022

COVID-19 Hardship

December 16, 2022 

The appropriations edition. During the next few days, leaders in Congress will try to hammer out an agreement on an omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2023. We don’t yet know the total for domestic funding, or how specific programs will fare. 

But there is one thing we do know, and we know it emphatically. 

We know that for the past 12 years, human needs programs have been starved of funding – and now, Congress has an opportunity to address this. You will read about some of these programs below. We know that as many as 15 million Americans – the majority people of color – are about to get thrown over a “Medicaid cliff” unless Congress acts. We know that extreme carnage could be delivered to our economy unless Congress increases or suspends the debt limit – and we’ve asked Congress to prevent such a disaster. 

The Coalition on Human Needs has tracked funding levels for 168 human needs programs from FY 2010 to FY 2022. Of the 168 programs, 118 (nearly two-thirds, or 63 percent) saw cuts during this 12-year period, when inflation is taken into account. Nearly one-third (58 programs, 31 percent) saw cuts of 20 percent or more. “The programs CHN tracks are of special importance to people with low incomes; many are means-tested,” CHN writes. “They serve vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities and immigrants. [They]…reach every age group, from babies to the aging; they are of disproportionate importance to communities of color. They protect women and LGBTQ people from harm.” 

More than two and a half years into the pandemic, hundreds of Americans are still dying every day. Many more are getting sick, and new COVID-19 cases once again are on the rise. Meanwhile, families suffer. Inflation has taken a bite out of everyone’s wallet. Many more children are living in poverty because Congress so far has failed to renew the expanded Child Tax Credit. Everything costs more, from rent to groceries to home heating. Congress must pass an appropriations bill that robustly addresses these concerns. 

We have several suggestions for actions you can take. First, you can write Congress and tell them to pass an appropriations bill that adequately funds human needs programs. Second, our friends at MomsRising have set up both a hotline and a text message system around the issue of the Child Tax Credit, Call 1-888-496-4842 or text CTCNow to 747464. Third, our friends at UnidosUS have set up a system where you can write Congress and urge that 15 million Americans not be tossed off the Medicaid cliff – click here. (That link will also allow you to take action on the CTC and to protect DREAMers.) 



15 million


The number of Americans who will lose Medicaid, despite the fact that millions will remain eligible, once the current COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ends, unless Congress takes action. An estimated 64 percent of Latinos losing coverage will remain eligible but will be dropped because of red tape, along with high proportions of other people of color who lose Medicaid:  51 percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and 40 percent of Blacks, compared to 17 percent of Whites. Tweet this.


5.3 million


The number of children who will lose Medicaid once the Public Health Emergency ends. Three-fourths of these children would remain eligible, but their coverage would be terminated because of missing paperwork or other administrative reasons. Tweet this.




Funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program dropped 40.6 percent from FY 2010 to FY 2022, counting inflation. With home heating and cooling costs now soaring, restoring this funding is now needed more than ever. Families are expected to pay 17.2 percent more for home heating this winter compared to last winter. Tweet this.




Funding for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant declined 19 percent from FY 2010 to FY 2022. But more money is needed now – opioid overdose deaths reached a new high in 2021, exceeding 100,000 in the U.S. for the first time ever. Tweet this.




Funding for the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant dropped 10 percent from FY 2010 to FY 2022, despite the fact that the maternal death rate in the U.S. is skyrocketing – particularly among Blacks and Latinas. Tweet this.




Funding for children’s mental health dropped 17.9 percent from FY 2010 to FY 2022. Numerous studies have shown that children’s mental health was in crisis before the pandemic began. Now, studies show, it is even worse.




Special Education (IDEA) grants to states dropped 7.6% from FY 2010 to FY 2022 and IDEA grants to infants and families (early intervention for the youngest children with disabilities) dropped 10 percent during the same time period, even though children need extra attention in the aftermath of the pandemic.





According to the Economic Policy Institute, there are 461,000 fewer people in local and state public-sector jobs than there were in February 2020, the month before the pandemic was declared. Employment in state and local jobs overall is down 2.3 percent; in some states such as Louisiana, Michigan, and West Virginia, it is down more than 5 percent. Human needs advocates emphasize the importance of Congress passing a robust appropriations bill that provides adequate support for state and local governments to replenish their workforces.





About 45 percent of public schools report vacancies in special education positions and 31 percent report shortages of elementary teachers. More than 14 percent of school bus driver positions are vacant.




As many as one in 13 adults, or about 7.5 percent of the U.S. population, are experiencing symptoms that last three or more months after contracting COVID-19, according to new data released by the CDC this week. Most common symptoms are cognitive brain impairment, or “brain fog,” breathlessness, fatigue, and coughing. 




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