Posted August 13, 2019 04:00:56In the midst of a crippling crisis, the US government has announced an unprecedented $3 billion package of healthcare and financial aid to help cope with the Zika virus outbreak.
President Donald Trump said on Thursday the funds would help “make our health care system stronger” by “pushing back against the epidemic, which has claimed more than 2,000 lives across the United States”.
While some experts have predicted the funding could provide a temporary respite to the nation’s already-struggling healthcare system, the White House is now trying to reassure Americans the new stimulus package is more than just an emergency relief measure.
According to Reuters, the government has said the funding will be used to help the states deal with the spread of the Zika, and will help address the “complexity and scale of the crisis”.
“The Federal Emergency Management Agency is also deploying additional resources to the states to help deal with this crisis, and provide additional assistance to local governments,” a White House official told Reuters.
The $3bn in funding is the largest single piece of healthcare aid given to a state since the Ebola pandemic of 2014.
The president said he was sending his administration’s Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for 2018, which will cover “all of the costs of the new aid package”, adding that he would send more than $5bn to states.
But not all economists are convinced the federal government will be able to provide all of the aid the president has requested.
According a report in the New York Times, some analysts have expressed doubts the stimulus funds will be enough to solve the US’s “emergency”, and some economists have predicted that the government will run out of money to make up for the funding it received from Congress.
Reuters reports that, while some economists expect the funds to make a “positive impact”, others worry that it could cause a huge economic backlash that could destabilise the global economy.
Reuters says the White the stimulus package will help “provide immediate relief to communities in need”, but warned that it will not solve the Zika crisis.
“The money may help to ease the strain on the country’s health care systems, but the real winners will be the states, and the many millions of Americans who have been hurt by the pandemic,” the report said.
According the report, states that receive the largest portion of the federal stimulus funds “may experience a dramatic spike in health-care costs that would be felt throughout the economy”.
“States that receive relatively small amounts of the stimulus funding may also see an immediate rise in healthcare costs due to the Zika pandemic.”
It is expected that the money will also help fund “the emergency” in Puerto Rico, which was hit hard by the hurricane and has struggled to get its own emergency relief package.
A total of $7.7bn in aid is available to states, states and territories, but it will likely be a long time before all of that money is spent.