Friday Facts and Figures: July 24, 2020

Friday Facts and Figures is a brief digital newsletter focusing on data points from NJPP reports, research, and policy debates in New Jersey and beyond.
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COVID-19 Cases: 177,887 | Deaths: 13,810
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]


$300 Million

New Jersey is one step closer to expanding access to health care and making coverage more affordable, thanks to a new bill that passed through the Senate Commerce and Assembly Financial Institutions Committees on Thursday afternoon. The proposal would establish a Health Insurance Assessment (HIA), which is projected to generate more than $300 million annually to fund different health care initiatives across the state. As NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Brittany Holom explains in this op-ed, the proposal would capture an expiring fee that insurance companies currently pay to the federal government, providing the state with ample resources to meet New Jersey’s unique health care needs — all at no new cost to insurers. Business lobbyists made a big push to kill the bill, so we sincerely appreciate all of you who took action and reached out to committee members in support of affordable health care. [NJ Spotlight / Brittany Holom]


40,000

Unemployment insurance (UI) claims in New Jersey are back on the rise, just as federal unemployment relief from the CARES Act is set to expire. Weekly UI claims peaked in early April and have steadily declined since. They are now slowly rising, surpassing 40,000 weekly claims earlier this month for the first time since May. This uptick in job loss could not have happened at a worse time, as the federal government’s supplemental unemployment benefit of $600 per week will expire at the end of the month. According to NJPP Research Director Nicole Rodriguez, “If this relief is not extended, it will be much harder for families to meet their basic needs, exacerbating poverty and worsening racial inequality.” [NJPP / Nicole Rodriguez]


Tens of Millions

Tens of millions of jobless workers will go weeks without federal unemployment assistance — even if relief from the CARES Act is eventually extended — as Congress waited too long to act. That’s because state unemployment offices across the country will need weeks to reprogram their systems to account for any extension or changes to federal relief programs, including the $600 supplemental unemployment payments. “In some states, it could take quite a bit of time, and it could cause severe delays,” said Arindrajit Dube, a professor of economics at UMass Amherst. “This is the kind of thing you don’t try to change in the middle of a pandemic.” Great job, Congress. [Politico / Rebecca Rainey and Katherine Landergan]


23 Percent

Without additional federal relief, millions of families across the nation will suffer. In New Jersey, more than 1 in 5 renters — 23 percent — are behind on rent, 16 percent adults living with children do not have enough to eat, and almost 1 million workers have lost their jobs. As this new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) highlights, these hardships are not felt evenly across society, as Black, Latinx, and immigrant households have been disproportionately harmed by the pandemic. CBPP recommends that the next federal stimulus package should include provisions to: boost food assistance for all SNAP recipients, increase funding for housing assistance, provide relief for immigrant families, expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, promote childcare, and extend benefits for unemployed workers. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities / Sharon Parrott, Arloc Sherman, et al.]


ICYMI

Yesterday, NJPP President Brandon McKoy joined Governor Phil Murphy, Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride, Senator Joe Vitale, and Assemblyman John McKeon in a Facebook Live roundtable discussion on the benefits of a state-level Health Insurance Assessment (HIA). Tune in to hear Brandon discuss how an HIA will expand health coverage and promote racial equity in the Garden State. [Facebook Live / Governor Phil Murphy]


Pets of NJPP

The pets are back! Thank you to Sarah Fishtein (an avid reader of Friday Facts and Figures since day 1) for sharing a photo of her senior citizen pup, Percy! Percy is 14-years-old and mostly deaf, but that doesn’t stop him from romping around in the woods. He once ate an entire bag of Halloween candy, wrappers and all, and he’s known to sneeze repeatedly when he sees his favorite humans. Woof!


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