Despite statements to the contrary by various individuals, PPE has remained in short supply throughout the country. If elected, how will you ensure that every state and US territory is provided with enough medical supplies and capacity to manage the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the next one(s)?
I have worked hard in my position as Chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee to ensure that COVID relief packages have included the resources hospitals and health care providers, including more than $200 million for those in our District, and first responders need to do their jobs on the frontline. Congress needs to make serious investments in the CDC and NIH to ensure both the development and large-scale distribution of effective vaccines. I believe Congress and the next Administration need to take a hard look at the Strategic National Stockpile, how and why it is stocked with the supplies it holds as well as how we can do better.
The coronavirus has placed a tremendous strain on the healthcare system, and the rise in unemployment has resulted in many people losing their health insurance, amplifying disparities in access to health care. If elected, what would you do to help the healthcare system and all the people who need it? Would you expand coverage with a public option or a Medicare For All concept, something else, or nothing?
We need universal healthcare more than ever in this crisis. That is why I wrote the Medicare for America Act, which builds on the success of Medicare and Medicaid, and achieves universal health coverage by auto enrolling every child at birth, those who are uninsured, and those who currently purchase their coverage on the individual market, in the new Medicare for America program. Employees have the option to stay covered by quality employer-sponsored insurance or choose to enroll in the program. Employers also have the option to choose Medicare for America for their employees. Let me be clear, every individual in this country will have the option to be covered by Medicare for America, and no one will go uninsured.
Do you agree or disagree with President Trump’s directive for all schools to return to a full schedule this school year? What parameters and/or process do you endorse in making decisions involving the operation of public schools in the age of COVID-19?
A false narrative has been created around what have been, in the vast majority of circumstances, peaceful protests. For too many Americans, this is not simply about the instances of injustice which sparked these protests, but the deep, systemic racial disparities that they live every day. Those of us who serve in elected office should be focused on addressing the underlying root causes driving these protests - - racism, economic and social inequities, and the need to reform our criminal justice system. Unfortunately, that is not the kind of leadership that we are seeing from the President and his Administration.
The pandemic has led to massive changes in our workforce, with many jobs disappearing entirely, at least for now. If elected, how do you envision reshaping the workforce to create new opportunities for those whose jobs have evaporated – for example, in restaurants and bars and throughout the service sector?
The service sector has been uniquely devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since mid-March, a majority of independent restaurants have closed their doors, laid off most of their employees, and are unsure what their business model will be after the pandemic. In April alone, 5.5 million restaurant workers lost their jobs, accounting for 27% of total job losses in the month. Some of these jobs are coming back but many will not return without assistance. The House passed Heroes 2.0 package included a bill I strongly support, the RESTAURANTS Act, which would establish a $120 billion restaurant revitalization fund to help provide targeted relief for restaurants who have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping mitigate their lost revenue and support the rehiring of staff. Moving into the future, Congress must work with state and local governments to provide the necessary PPE and other materials to our nations restaurants to help employees feel safe and protected while at work.
COVID-19 and the resulting recession have increased the number of people who qualify for Medicaid just when state revenues are dropping. Will you support more relief for state Medicaid programs to continue coverage levels and ensure access to providers?
Yes. The expansion of Medicaid has been lifesaving for millions of Americans. That was true prior to the pandemic for the elderly who need coverage for long-term care, children and adults with disabilities, those with substance use disorders, and those working multiple part-time jobs without the option for healthcare. The health and economic crisis we face today has only further highlighted the need for universal healthcare. With this expansion, we must increase reimbursement rates to ensure that we have enough providers participating. That is why my Medicare for America Act proactively increases reimbursements rates to at least the Medicare level (where applicable), and gives the Secretary authority to increase rates further to ensure people do not have to wait to see a health provider.
The coronavirus is going to be with us for the foreseeable future, bringing with it, massive ongoing disruption to all of our systems, from food supply to employment to health care to education and more. From a broad perspective, how do you holistically envision addressing this crisis in the long-term?
The pandemic has brought light to many issues that I have been advocating for the need to address. Food deserts, access to affordable healthcare and child care, as well as using our tax system to benefit working families. We need to increase the minimum benefit for SNAP and implement a fully refundable and expanded Child Tax Credit. That is why I introduced the American Family Act which would cut the child poverty rate by 42%. Most importantly, we need to make strong investments in the CDC and NIH to ensure that our nation can not only combat this current pandemic but will also be prepared for any future such event.
Many Americans are now calling racism a public health crisis in our country, with policy implications and disparities across multiple sectors like law enforcement, residential zoning, healthcare access, employment, and educational equity, among others. What measures must Congress take to address racism and its impact over many generations in America?
The pandemic has further exposed deep racial inequities, particularly in terms of healthcare and economic security. We must move towards a universal health care system, which is why I wrote the Medicare for America Act. It is why we must pass my American Family Act that cuts all child poverty by 42%, Black and Latinx child poverty by 52%. Public education is critical to the success of all of our young people and we must do more to address the deep, systematic problems that exist today. We also must do more to ensure the economic security of working families, and particularly for women, which is why I am fighting for paid sick days as well as paid family and medical leave, regular schedules at work, raising the minimum wage, and equal pay for equal work for women.
What measures do you support to help protect voting rights this year and for the years ahead, within the context of the pandemic and post-pandemic voting?
Securing our electoral process is fundamental to our democracy. Our first priority should be to prevent foreign interference, which is why I supported the SHIELD Act, which takes decisive action to deter foreign activity in our elections. We also need to replace outdated and vulnerable equipment in order to alleviate the risk of cybersecurity threats. This is why I supported the SAFE Act, which provides critical funding to states so that they can safeguard the electoral process. I have also long supported the Help America Vote Act, which provides funding to improve electoral administration.
Do you agree or disagree with President Trump's recent decisions to label certain American cities as "anarchist," and to send federal agents – uninvited by local authorities – into cities such as Portland, Oregon? In your opinion, is this a legitimate use of federal force and rhetoric, or is this an overreach?
It is important that our kids get back to school. We need leadership in government that respects and follows the science. The CDC has issued guidelines to help inform the decisions school districts are making in terms of re-opening safely for teachers and students. Our local health departments are providing up-to-date information on infection and hospitalization rates. Every school district is different in that they each deal with a unique set of variables including student population, age and condition of buildings, and input from parents. I believe the individual school districts, in conjunction with the state’s Department of Education, are in the best position to make decisions on how and when their schools can open safely.
The world is facing an impending climate emergency. With the US spending more than the next 10 countries combined on our military budget, do you think that it is important that we transition some of those resources to combat and build resiliency ahead of a predicted global climate catastrophe? How can Connecticut’s existing engineering, manufacturing, and technical project management expertise be transitioned to address that next emergency before it is too late?
Global warming is an existential threat, which is why I am a proud original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, which will ensure environmental justice for minority and vulnerable communities while protecting workers and investing in green jobs and technology. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee I also pushed for the investment hundreds of millions of dollars into clean energy. In the House, I have also pushed for legislation that would move our economy to green energy sources, including the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act and the 100% Clean Economy Act.
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