The health and human services secretary, Alex Azar, will appear at four Congressional hearings this week, starting today with the Senate Appropriations Committee.
He’ll be fielding questions about the Trump administration’s budget request, which includes cuts to HHS spending, impacting Medicare and Medicaid. There’s also likely to be a heavy focus on the virus that causes COVID-19.
The Trump administration’s proposal includes funding cuts for the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Right now, the CDC is in the spotlight as questions over containment of COVID-19 keep growing.
J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Azar will likely face questions about the CDC’s budget.
“Congress is going to say, ‘Wait a second, this is another instance of us being stuck in a cycle of crisis and complacency, or crisis and neglect,'” Morrison said.
He said there will be requests for more robust long-term budgets for key health agencies.
Chris Meekins, an analyst at Raymond James and himself formerly an HHS preparedness official, said that while the U.S. is the global leader in public health preparedness, officials need to be selective in their spending.
“To make sure they are prioritizing the things that truly are the highest need for the public, and not just focusing on science for science’s sake,” Meekins said.
Congress has previously rejected Trump administration budgets that proposed similar cuts.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?
Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.
How are Americans feeling about their finances?
Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.
Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.
What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?
A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.