Federal Budget, Relief Bills Near Agreement, But No Aid to States as NY Faces $15B Deficit and Risk of Cuts, Taxes 

Situation Report | December 21, 2020

Over the weekend, Congress passed, and President Trump signed, two short-term continuing resolution funding bills to keep the government running and prevent a shutdown as the Senate and House negotiate both a long-term budget bill and a successor coronavirus relief measure following last spring’s CARES Act.

The first short-term continuing resolution, on Friday evening, lasted two days; but as negotiations fizzled over the weekend, lawmakers passed another measure on Sunday evening, this time expiring after 24 hours.

By late Sunday, lawmakers were seemingly on the cusp of reaching a deal on measures that would continue to be taken up today. It would include a $1.4 trillion long term budget and a $900 billion coronavirus relief package.

The relief bill reportedly would extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), reauthorize expiring unemployment benefits (at $300 per week, which is less than the $600 included in last spring’s CARES Act), and issue another distribution of stimulus checks that, for most households, will be $600 (half of the $1,200 included in the CARES Act).

However, the agreement reportedly does not include the kind of relief that many state and city officials have been calling for since the springtime as the pandemic continues to take a devastating fiscal toll.

As extensively reported, New York State officials project an unprecedented deficit next year, amounting to $14 to $15 billion in 2021, rising as high as $59 billion through 2022. Governor Cuomo has warned that, without $15 billion in federal aid, there will be no escaping major program cuts and increased taxes, which puts Medicaid home and community-based services at enormous risk, among other programs and services in the state budget.

HCA has been pressing for federal relief to ensure the fiscal stability of Medicaid home and community-based programs, along with the continuation of federal relief programs necessary for the overwhelming majority of New York home and community-based organizations that are coping with losses in the pandemic, including nearly 40 percent of providers expecting losses of 11 percent to 20 percent, with some projecting much higher impacts, and an already 1.5 percent cut in reimbursement (which is expected to increase dramatically without major federal relief).

HCA urges all members to be prepared for advocacy in this environment of serious ongoing fiscal risk across programs and services.