April 23, 2021 IN: Education, Health, Immigration, National
First 100 Days – Bimonthly Policy Recap (April 23)
April 30th marks the 100th day of the Biden-Harris Administration. While this will be the final edition of SEARAC’s 100 Day Biweekly Policy Update newsletters, our team will still be analyzing and reporting on President Biden’s policies as well as state and federal actions that impact Southeast Asian Americans. You can subscribe to our general newsletter for updates at searac.org or follow us @searac on social media.
American Jobs Plan includes $400B for caregiving
At the end of March, President Biden unveiled details of the American Jobs Plan, the next major initiative from the President focused on infrastructure. The plan covers a broad scope of infrastructural issues from workforce development to broadband networks. SEARAC applauds the proposed allocation of $400 billion to expand access to quality and affordable home and community-based care for older Americans and the increased support for direct care workers. However, the final proposal must ensure that funds allocated for caregiving are equitably distributed to ensure the unique needs of Southeast Asian and other diverse elders can be addressed. SEARAC will continue to work with the Administration and Congress to ensure SEAA and other diverse elders can receive accessible culturally and linguistically appropriate care.
Debt-Free College Act is reintroduced in Congress
This week, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) reintroduced the Debt-Free College Act, a bill that would create partnerships between states and the federal government to help students graduate from a public institution of higher education without debt. More and more states have cut funding for higher education, driving the costs of tuition up for students, and the economic impacts of COVID-19 have further jeopardized state budgets. This bill would help states reinvest in higher education by offering a one-to-one financial match for states allocating sufficient funds for students, especially low-income students. SEARAC endorsed this bill in the 116th Congress and is proud to re-endorse the bill during this cycle.
Department of Education releases new COVID-19 handbook
Earlier this month, the US Department of Education (ED) released the second volume in a series of handbooks that provide strategies for safely reopening schools and for ensuring educational equity by addressing opportunity gaps that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The first volume focused on health and safety procedures for in-person learning. This second volume addresses ways to specifically meet the needs of marginalized students. Read both handbooks at the links below:
- ED COVID-19 Handbook Volume 1: Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools
- ED COVID-19 Handbook Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs
ACA Marketplace features lower costs, extended enrollment
The ACA marketplace now includes plans with lower costs. The American Rescue Plan generally decreased premiums for millions of Americans, so even if you weren’t eligible for plans with a lower cost before, you may be eligible now. The marketplace enrollment period has also been extended until Aug. 15. Specifically:
- If you were eligible for a premium tax credit before, you may now be eligible for an even lower premium.
- After applying the premium tax credit, those in the lowest income brackets can now get a $0-premium benchmark plan. Additionally, people who received unemployment benefits in 2021 can also get this plan.
- If your household income is within the middle income range, and you were previously ineligible for assistance, you may now be eligible for premium tax credits. This is because the American Rescue Plan caps premium payments to 8.5% of an individual’s or household’s income.
However, lower premiums are not automatically applied to your current plan. In order to access these benefits, you must enroll for a plan or change your current plan in the marketplace after April 1. Learn more.