News & Commentary

October 11, 2020

Deanna Krokos

Deanna Krokos is a student at Harvard Law School

Healthcare costs and coverage dominated the democratic party primary in 2020, with numerous plans and policies being considered. A new report adds color to that conversation, showing that in 2020,  employer-sponsored healthcare became more expensive across the board. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that annual family premiums increased by 4% this year, higher than the 3.4% year-to-year increase in average wages and nearly double the 2.1% rate of inflation. This follows an August report from the Commonwealth Fund that found deductibles rose faster than income since 2010, and deeming the current landscape an “affordability crisis.”

This week, the Wall Street Journal published a study of economists indicating that pandemic-related job losses are not expected to fully rebound until 2023, a more grim outlook than a similar survey predicted six months ago. Labor market hiring has slowed and new unemployment claims remain at record highs. The same survey predicted a faster recovery for GDP and financial markets, highlighting the obvious inequality exacerbated by this crisis.

A new PAC is asking business leaders to sign a pledge: if President Trump is re-elected, the business will give their employees a raise. The Washington Post reports that “Raise Up for Trump” PAC is seeking at least 1,000 businesses to sign the pledge, impacting at least 1,000,0000 workers. This initiative draws focus to the lower-than-expected wage growth during the Trump Administration, even as unemployment fell through 2019.

This week, BloombergLaw reported that during the early stages of the covid-19 pandemic, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia met with business leaders “far more” than workers or worker advocacy groups. On Friday afternoon, the Department of Labor released Scalia’s schedule for the first time in over a year, including call and meeting logs for the month of March. The logs demonstrate how frequently Scalia turned to business and industry leaders’ opinions on handling the pandemic. Though the logs do not reflect meetings taken after March, its notable that Scalia did not meet with any healthcare sector unions or worker coalitions in the first month of the crisis, when hospital capacity, access to adequate PPE, and other healthcare-related questions were widely regarded as top priority. He did, however, meet with hospital industry groups.

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