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HEROES Act Continues Piecemeal Investment in Nation’s Young People

Moments ago, the United States House of Representatives passed The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES) Act of 2020. The latest bill considered by Congress to combat the coronavirus’ impact on the nation’s public health and economic security, The HEROES Act will now go to the U.S. Senate for a vote.

Following the passage of The HEROES Act, Jesse Barba, Senior Director of External Affairs for Young Invincibles, issued the following statement:

“With millions of young people losing their jobs, their health care, and their economic stability, The HEROES Act makes investments to support the most diverse generation in history as they weather the coronavirus. This bill, however, only begins to help young people find stability as they navigate the health and economic turmoil young people have experienced in these tumultuous few months.

While we are supportive of The HEROES Act because it expands access to health care, food, and financial relief, Congress must know that their work isn’t close to being done and much more is needed. Young people now represent the largest population in the country, yet relief efforts fail to meet the moment. With millions of young people losing their jobs, navigating crushing student debt, and facing skyrocketing unemployment, young people need and deserve more to recover from this pandemic. Any future COVID packages must start with consistent financial support when the economy slows, broader student debt cancellation, and increased subsidies to lower the cost of insurance through the health insurance marketplace.

As this bill advances and beyond, Young Invincibles will continue working with Members of Congress to ensure today’s young people are afforded the protections and resources to weather the crisis ahead of them. We cannot allow young people to miss out on a lifetime of opportunities, again.”

Key provisions in The HEROES Act that will directly benefit young people include:

  • Issuing a second round of stimulus payments, which includes tax dependents over age 16, older children who are dependents such as 17- or 18-year-olds, and adult children with disabilities.
  • Increasing funds to states to address immediate public health needs related to Medicaid
  • Suspending SNAP work requirements for all public programs, including student work requirements.
  • Pausing student loan payments until September 30th, 2021, and issuing $10,000 in student relief to eligible borrowers.
  • Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) by changing the minimum age to 18 for qualified former foster youth
  • Boosting the Child Tax Credit (CTC) while lowering the age for qualifying children to 17.

Kyle Southern, Director of Higher Education Policy and Advocacy for Young Invincibles issued the following statement in regard to the higher education proposals in the HEROES Act.

“The HEROES Act would provide critical support for students and student borrowers by addressing many of the challenges that threaten to hinder young people for years following the economic devastation of the COVID crisis. With funding for student emergency grants and broadband access, The HEROES Act responds to some of the most pressing needs facing today’s students as they navigate these unprecedented financial, health, and educational challenges. And by pausing loan repayments through September 2021, The HEROES Act would give further financial support to borrowers nationwide as they deal with job losses, loss of health coverage, and the litany of other challenges that they will face as the economy recovers.

But The HEROES Act also leaves much to be desired. By dramatically restricting eligibility for student debt relief, Congress has excluded a large swath of borrowers who struggle to make their loan payments every month. This is a missed opportunity to put millions of people on stronger financial footing — many of them people of color or working in high-risk jobs — and enable the nation’s young people to access resources to maintain some semblance of financial security. While we support this bill broadly, this needless restriction is troubling and will leave out many borrowers hit hardest by today’s crisis.”

Erin Hemlin, Director of Health Policy and Advocacy for Young Invincibles issued the following statement in regard to the health proposals in the HEROES Act.

“The coronavirus is the most devastating health crisis of this generation, and young people are not immune. Young adults, who are already uninsured at higher rates compared to older adults, need and deserve access to quality, affordable health coverage, including fully covered COVID treatment. We’re grateful that The HEROES Act provides COVID-19 treatment and vaccines for all, without cost-sharing, and creates a special enrollment period to allow uninsured Americans to purchase insurance.

Most critically, the HEROES Act provides a 14 percentage point increase in federal funding for Medicaid, a lifeline for many young people of color, many of whom are hourly workers who still risk exposure at work. While unemployment rises and the economic ramifications of this pandemic continue, Medicaid enrollment will spike significantly, and this federal funding will help match the increased need.

These investments are an important next step in stemming the coronavirus crisis, but Congress needs to do more. It’s never been more clear that we need expanded Medicaid in every state, yet The HEROES Act does not provide financial incentives for the remaining non-expansion states. And we need to make sure that plans are truly affordable for new enrollees by expanding funding for the financial assistance that lowers premiums for enrollees through the health insurance marketplace.”