March 17, 2020


Proposes Immediate, Universal Cash Assistance to Families in face of COVID-19

Newton, MA – As the economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic begin to mount, Congressman Joe Kennedy III today announced a worker's economic recovery plan that would guarantee immediate, universal cash payments to all Americans, fast track and increase access to unemployment insurance, and send an influx of Medicaid (MassHealth) funds to states across the country dealing with a health care sector in crisis. 

Continuing his focus on populations most vulnerable to this outbreak, Kennedy’s plan centers on a direct cash assistance proposal, guaranteeing $4,000 in annual direct cash payments to adults earning less than $100,000 per year, and $2,000 per child for families in that same income bracket.

"Direct – and universal – cash assistance will help ensure both economic stimulus and economic survival," said Kennedy.  "Policymakers cannot discuss bailouts for industry until we ensure direct investments in the families whose wages, benefits, and livelihood are on the line. Beyond that, this worker's economic recovery plan makes deep investments in two critical safety nets that are more essential today than ever before: unemployment insurance and public health insurance.  By fortifying these and putting money directly into the pockets of American families, we offer some semblance of protection in unprecedented times. This plan is one step – of many – that Congress must act on in the days ahead." 

To watch Kennedy’s full remarks on the proposal, please click here.

The worker's economic recovery package would:

  • Guarantee $4,000 to every American adult earning less than $100,000 annually and $2,000 for each child.
  • Guarantee $2,000 to every American adult earning more than $100,000 annually and $1,000 for each child.
  • Stimulus continues in ensuing years, depending on the strength of the economy.
  • Eliminate the one-week waiting period imposed by many states for unemployment insurance applicants 
  • Extend unemployment insurance by an additional 13 weeks.
  • Significantly increase the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, sending additional funds to cash-strapped health care centers across the country. 

Kennedy's legislative package will be introduced in the coming days.  

Kennedy's COVID-19 response

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Congressman Kennedy has fought for vulnerable populations. Last week, he called on Speaker Pelosi to increase funding for community health centers, first responders, and incarcerated individuals, specifically that any testing or treatment in prisons be provided without co-pays, and demanded the Administration ensure testing and treatment for the virus is provided at no cost to patients. Additionally, he demanded that the White House invoke the Defense Production Act to ensure providers and communities had access to critical resources.

In early February, long before others were raising concerns with access to testing, he sent a letter to the CDC with Congressman Derek Kilmer and Senator Patty Murray demanding the agency quickly get tests to states, particularly states with confirmed cases like Massachusetts. When the Trump Administration decided to use critical heating aid funding to fund their initial overdue and underwhelming response, he led a letter to Congressional appropriators urging them to restore LIHEAP funding, which was included in the initial emergency response package. Afterwards, he directly confronted Sec. Azar about covering the costs associated with testing and treatment for un- and underinsured patients, as well as the continuous misleading statements from the President. Continuing his efforts to advocate for the most vulnerable populations, he called on Congressional Leadership to increase funding for community health centers and convened an emergency roundtable with state and local health leaders at East Boston Neighborhood Health Center the very next day. After learning that the supplemental package passed by Congress last week did not guarantee telemedicine to Medicaid patients, he sent a bipartisan letter to CMS Administrator Verma demanding that she work with states to cover all telemedicine services for the 71 million Americans covered by Medicaid and CHIP. He has also joined Senator Warren and members of the delegation to ensure the Massport was prepared for an outbreak and ensuring the state’s needs were being met by the Administration.

Beyond what he’s done in Washington, he has focused on outreach back home. He’s coordinated his response with mayors and other elected officials in his district, hospital leaders, state officials and other State House leaders to hear what they need to best respond back home – and is working to push the FDA to quickly approve COVID-19 tests based on those conversations. He wrote an e-newsletter including critical prevention information last week that was seen by more than 40,000 people. And he held a Facebook Live with a former acting Surgeon General to answer questions from concerned constituents which already has well over 50,000 views.