On Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren released a plan for tackling the coronavirus, framed as actionable points the Trump administration should follow. The plan, like much of Warren’s work, focuses on the most vulnerable in our population, including people without insurance, people who are under-insured, workers, and people with dependents. The senator’s proposal addresses individual needs, as well as the economy, healthcare system, and ways Congress can take action. Her campaign has not yet released an estimate on the total cost.
“Millions of Americans choosing not to seek care because of cost concerns will worsen the public health and economic effects of coronavirus,” the Democratic presidential candidate writes. A frightening, but likely accurate, prediction. In her plan, Warren specifies that she wants every single person, including people without insurance and those with insurance who haven’t reached their deductible, to receive evaluations and care for free. She argues that any recommended vaccine (when one is available) for the virus should be free to all. This includes people with Medicare and Medicaid.
How will we pay for this free care? In her plan, Warren instructs Congress to create a fund for reimbursing hospitals and other healthcare providers, including for costs related to government-mandated quarantines.
In terms of economy, Warren advocates for a fiscal stimulus package of at least $400 billion. The goal? Staving off the possible economic hit stemming from the virus. For example, when people travel less, go out to eat less, and spend more conservatively, the economy can take a considerable hit. Again, Warren calls on Congress to take action, this time by offering low-cost loans to small and medium-sized businesses impacted by the outbreak. She also wants to increase aid available for local governments and states as needed.
And for workers? Warren wants an emergency paid leave program. Here’s how that would work. Anyone who presents with symptoms (per the CDC’s guidelines) could get paid time off work to get to a physician and receive treatment. That’s great in itself, but her plan also extends to people who have dependents. For instance, if you’re not sick yourself, but you have a family member, partner, or another dependent who may be, this program would still cover your paid time off work to provide care for that person. This approach is also a relief to businesses, who won’t have to offer paid time off to workers amid possible revenue losses.
Warren says this emergency paid leave program “will give people the financial peace of mind.” This sentiment is a nice touch, and one that is often left out of workers' rights conversations when it comes to policy; logistics of managing shifts, wages, and approval for time off aside, lost wages or job precarity can cause an enormous emotional burden. Being sick, or caring for the sick, is hard enough—worrying about finances is an unjust blow to workers.
Warren introduced the plan while at a rally in Houston, Texas, on Saturday evening, saying, “It's a time for leadership and someone who believes in science.” While Warren is known as the candidate with a plan for everything, this one is especially unsurprising, given that just a few days before unveiling her plan, the senator introduced a bill to divert funding from Trump’s border wall to combatting the coronavirus.
“Rather than use taxpayer dollars to pay for a monument to hate and division, my bill will help ensure that the federal government has the resources it needs to adequately respond to this emergency,” Warren said in a statement.
In Houston, Warren again took aim at the Trump administration. "With fears of an economic crisis and recession rising,” Warren said as reported by ABC 13, “with fears of a global pandemic rising, Americans must ask themselves: who do you trust to actually run this country? Donald Trump has already shown he's not up to the task."
Here is a clip from her speaking on the plan in Houston.